MANILA, Philippines – Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile advised President Rodrigo Duterte not to mind people who are criticizing his foreign policy, particularly on the issue involving China and the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea.
During Duterte’s pre-recorded public address late Monday, Enrile told the president to just let his critics ramble on and to not engage them on the issue.
“That’s the best thing Mr. President. Pabayaan mo na lang sila,” Enrile said.
“After all Mr. President, you are only responsible to the Filipino people, and you are not responsible to any specific person for your foreign policy. Yours is to protect the interest of the nation and its people in the best way you can,” he added.
Duterte invited Enrile to Malacañang to speak on the issue concerning West Philippine Sea, the role in the issue of some officials, particularly former Senator Antonio Trillanes and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, and why the Philippines lost access to the Scarborough Shoal during the Aquino administration.
“Alam na ngayon ng mga tao kug bakit hindi ako sumasagot. This is the best advise that I got ngayong gabing ito,” Duterte said.
“I hope that we would be able to weather any trouble with China now and in the future for as long as it’s very dangerous for us,” he added.
Earlier in the conference, the 97-year old former lawmaker also advised Duterte to keep his “friendly” approach towards China and the issue on the West Philippine Sea.
“Hindi dapat gamitin ang mainit na kaisipan na kagaya ng mga kritiko natin. Dapat balance lang ang approach natin at mahinahon,” he said.
“Kailangan na friendly ang approach natin diyan, hindi assertive and aggressive approach sapagkat kapag hindi tayo magkakaunawa sa China ay madadamay ang interes ng ating mga kababayan, ang ating ekonomiya, pati na rin ang ating seguridad dito sa usapin na ito,” he added.
Duterte thanked Enrile for his advise, reiterating that he prefers to talk with China instead of using force to defend the Philippine sovereignty.