Press Release
September 25, 2019

Excerpts from the confirmation hearing on the ad interim appointment of Rodolfo Robles, Philippines' Permanent Representative to the United Nations

SFNP: On the matter of the suspension of negotiations, in entering of these contracts, these loans or assistance, the Secretary of National Defense himself raised the matter of seeking an exemption to this policy of suspending negotiations because he feels that, at least based on news reports, that this can affect the current negotiations with one of our security partners, Australia. How do you explain this, on the one hand, we are saying we will suspend, on the other hand we will ask for an exemption? The left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

ROBLES: I also came across the comment of our Secretary of National Defense. And I think this is a very good example of democratic society where even the cabinet member can express an opinion different from the policy expressed by the President. At the same time, I also believe personally that our relationship with Australia will not be so much affected because it will just be a suspension, meaning, what I understand is that our proper government offices will look and examine why it will lift the suspension or not.

SFNP: So are you hoping to extensions to the policy or the suspension? Are you willing to bring this matter up to the President and say perhaps a better approach could be to do this on a case-to-case basis? Assuming that that case-to-case basis would be for the best interest of the country.

ROBLES: Yes, Senator. I am willing to have a second deeper look back to the problem because right now, I'm still at the surface study of all these problems because it is my first time to really officially delve deep into the problem. But I have always an open mind on matters like these. And what I try to study later on as I go deeper to the problem, maybe I would be able to come up with an option to these problems.


SFNP: ...what stronger actions on the incursion of China in our Exclusive Economic Zone or our territorial sovereign waters. So I think the answer being asked of you, our people would like to know, what are we going to do with these challenges that we face?

ROBLES: I'm afraid I cannot categorically answer the question but let me answer an opinion on this matter. I think what the government is doing, is doing it within its proper resources. We are actually trying to strengthen our military capability I think they're buying some jets and some warships but at the moment, we are actually not able to do anything except (raise) protests one after other saying this is an illegal act of China but at the same time, I'm not aware of what we really can do effectively to stop China from doing these. But I think we are trying to strengthen our military capability by buying those warships and some warplanes. I don't have any specific answer about this except my opinion.

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