Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday stood by his belief regarding the possibility of China leaving the artificial islands it built in the disputed areas in the South China Sea.
Saying it is free to dream, Roque reiterated his earlier statement that only the Philippines can legally build on those artificial islands which "will be ours" if the Philippines can ask China to leave.
"Bakit naman po hindi tayo mangangarap? Ang sabi mayroon tayong sovereign rights doon sa EEZ [200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone] kung saan ginawa ang mga isla na 'yan so ergo kapag nagkaroon ng pagkakataon mapapasaatin ang mga islang 'yan," Roque said at a press briefing in Sagñay, Camarines Sur.
Roque was responding to the statement of Senator Grace Poe on Thursday that his idea of China giving to the Philippines back the reefs it seized was a "wishful thinking."
Poe also said Roque's statement was like saying that a homeowner "may soon be thankful to a gang of fully armed men who unlawfully intruded his place for sometime and made it their safehouse, which in effect prevented other criminals from ransacking the same."
"And this comes with false hopes that the gang members will decide to give the house back, if they have not yet transferred the title under their name,” she added.
But Roque said it would be improper to compare China, a neighboring country, to a thief and a bandit.
"Siguro naman po sa larangan ng foreign relations eh dahil kapitbahay nila ay huwag naman natin silang tawaging magnanakaw at bandido. Sabihin na lang natin na talagang mayroong hidwaan, mayroong hindi pagkakasunduan, may mga pinag- aawayan pero lahat po iyan nareresolba naman sa mapayapang pamamaraan. So sa akin, senator, pasensya na po. Libreng mangarap," the Palace official said.
A newspaper report on Monday said Beijing had almost finished transforming the seven reefs claimed by Manila into military bases.
The Aquino administration took China to the arbitration court and won a favorable ruling that invalidated in July 2016 China's expansive claims in the resource-rich waterway.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, said he will temporarily set aside the ruling to avoid confrontation with China, but vowed to raise it at the right time during his term.
Roque to Poe: ‘Libreng mangarap’
4/ 5Oleh BNP Correspondent