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Duterte invoking national interest amid China sanction

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. (PCOO)

President Rodrigo Duterte will be guided by national interest in dealing with US sanctions on Chinese firms involved in constructing China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea (SCS), Malacañang said on Friday.

“The Chief Executive’s main consideration is what is best for the country’s Build, Build, Build program,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in response to the question on whether or not the government will review the Sangley Point International Airport (SPIA) project and other ongoing projects that involve Chinese firms covered by the US sanction.

Roque also said the Palace is hopeful that both the United States and China will be able to settle peacefully their ongoing issues in the SCS.

“The Philippines considers the United States and China as special friends and trading partners,” he said. “We hope that both partners of the Philippines will be able to draw an understanding and resolve any and all issues between them amicably and peacefully.”

Roque added that a peaceful outcome of the US-China row over the SCS will help further enhance greater stability and security in the region.

“This is what is needed for the mutual benefit and interest of everyone in our region,” he said.

Reports indicate that China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. (CCCC), which is taking part in the airport project in partnership with Lucio Tan’s MacroAsia Corp., was among the 24 Chinese companies covered by US sanctions for taking part in the construction of artificial islands in the SCS.

Among the said firms are subsidiaries of construction giant CCCC, telecommunications firms, and a unit of the China Shipbuilding Group.

China has been asserting its ownership in the South China Sea and parts of the West Philippines Sea,

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) has ruled in favor of the Philippines on its claims on the West Philippine Sea.

But despite the ruling, China refused to acknowledge PCA’s ruling and built military installations in the disputed waters.

p: wjg

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