Duterte: Roque is sole authorized spokesperson for WPS issues

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 18) — President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday that his spokesman is the only person authorized to speak about the government’s discussions on the West Philippine Sea.

He also ordered other members of the Cabinet to refrain from discussing matters related to the issue with anybody.

“That’s my order now to the Cabinet and to all, all and sundry, yung ano (the), talking for the government, to refrain discussing itong (this) West Philippines Sea with anybody. If we have to talk, we talk, tayo tayo lang (only among us), and there is one spokesman si Sec. Harry [Roque] would do it. Now you get the picture,” he said during his weekly address.

Last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. issued a warning, emphasizing that his agency has the final say when it comes to matters related to the Philippines’ foreign relations.

This was following the heavily criticized statement made by Roque wherein he said the Philippines was never in possession of Julian Felipe Reef, where around 200 Chinese ships were sighted in March, since it is not part of the country's exclusive economic zone.

His claim goes against the position of the department and Department of National Defense. His remark also dilutes the diplomatic protests filed by the Philippines on the continued presence of Chinese vessels and their illegal activities in the disputed waters.

Roque then said he already talked to Locsin, adding there is no bad blood between them.