Defense chief says PH ‘not stirring up trouble’ in WPS

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 27) — Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro refuted a Chinese official’s allegation that the national government is looking for trouble in the West Philippine Sea.

“‘Di naman tayo nag-i-istir ng trouble. Di naman tayo nagkukubkob. Yan di nila maintindihan,” he said Wednesday during a chance interview with reporters.

“‘Yan banta na ‘yan. Ano reaksyon ng Pilipino? Syempre lalo tayo malalayo sa kanila,” Teodoro added, apparently referring to China's aggressive actions, including putting up a floating barrier at Scarborough Shoal.

[Translation: We are not stirring up trouble. We are not besieging them. They don't understand that. That’s a threat already. What would be the reaction of Filipinos? Of course, we would be more detached from them.]

He added that it is clear that China's intent is "to control the whole South China Sea."

This was his response to Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s statement, calling on the Philippine government “not to make provocation or stir up trouble.”

READ: 'Don't make provocation or stir up trouble': China warns PH over floating barrier

Wang’s remarks came after the Philippine Coast Guard removed China’s floating barrier at Scarborough Shoal that prevents Filipino fishers from venturing to the area.

Meanwhile, during the Senate deliberation on the proposed 2024 budget of the Department of National Defense (DND), Teodoro said that the Philippines is open to diplomatic ways to lower the tension with China.

It should be in accordance with principled talks that are open and transparent, he added.

“Ang ginagawa lang po natin ay matagal na po, kaya nga po gusto natin baguhin ang plano ng pag-iisip natin. Nagre-react lang po tayo sa ginagawa po nila. So sila po ang nangunguna. Sila po ang nagbigay ng barrier sa Scarborough,” he added.

[Translation: We have been doing this for a while now, so we really want to change our thinking. We react to their actions. They provoked us first, they built barriers in Scarborough.]