Over 200 Chinese militia vessels anchored on Julian Felipe Reef (JFR)
By Junex Doronio
May 12, 2021
LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu — Virtually scolding the presidential mouthpiece, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr reiterated that only the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should speak on the country’s foreign policy, including China.
Locsin made this clear after Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque claimed that Julian Felipe Reef (JFR) was “outside” the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“There is only one voice on what’s ours: mine. Period. Not even the military has any say. I speak for the President on this subject,” Locsin pointed out in a tweet on Tuesday night, May 11.
In series of tweets, Locsin clarified that the DFA had “exclusive remit” on the issue and that only the DFA could speak for President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on foreign affairs matters.
Earlier, Roque claimed that the Philippines “cannot do anything” about the Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef since it was supposedly not within the Philippines’ EEZ.
In quick reply, Locsin tweeted: “What can we do? Let’s try this: Drop the subject and leave it entirely to the Department of Foreign Affairs under ME, the only expert on the subject bar none.”
The diplomat, who occassionally curses, even added: “This is my last warning. When it comes to foreign affairs the Department of Foreign Affairs has the exclusive remit.”
Roque said that Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef), a boomerang-shaped shallow coral reef, is outside the country’s EEZ but is still being claimed by the Philippines through a presidential decree crafted during the time of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
He made the claim even after the DFA filed daily diplomatic protests against the continued presence of Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef which is part of the Philippines’ EEZ.
Locsin and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had repeatedly demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Chinese vessels from the West Philippine Sea. (AI/MTVN)