DUTERTE TO TAP FORMER LEADERS ON CHINA ROW

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Instead of convening the National Security Council (NSC), Malacañang said that President Rodrigo Duterte is mulling over consulting his predecessors on China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

“First of all, there is nothing confusing with the President’s stand on the West Philippine Sea”, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.

Roque said President Duterte’s policy towards China is to temporarily set aside issues that cause disagreements and push through with commerce and investments, among others.

“But we never give away territory, and we will stand firm and protect our national sovereignty and sovereign rights.” Roque added.

Roque furthered, “Second, actually the President has mentioned to me the problem with the National Security Council. Nothing was resolved in the instances when he attended.”

The NSC is an advisory body where the President discusses national security and foreign policy matters with relevant advisers and Cabinet officials.

Instead of convening the NSC, President Duterte is thinking about inviting past Presidents and some personalities to a meeting and discuss the issue  Roque said.

He did not say whether or not President Duterte would invite his predecessor Benigno Aquino III, whose administration he has blamed for the withdrawal of Philippine ships from Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea in a standoff in 2012 and China’s subsequent seizure of the rich fishing grounds.

Former senator and military chief Rodolfo Biazon said earlier Thursday senators must urge President Duterte to convene the NSC to clarify his administration’s “confusing” stand on the sea row with China.