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Duterte invites Enrile to Palace for WPS discussion

May 14, 2021 - Friday 7:05 PM by PNA

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MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has invited former senator Juan Ponce Enrile to Malacañan Palace in Manila on May 17 for a special meeting to discuss issues concerning the highly-contested West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Duterte extended the invitation during his talk to the nation delivered on Thursday night but was televised just on Friday noon.

“We have respectfully invited Senator Enrile to come here kasi hindi naman ako puwedeng makalabas na mag-usap (because I cannot go out). Pakinggan natin siya (Let us listen to him),” he said.

Duterte sought Enrile’s advice regarding the WPS disputes, saying the former lawmaker has deeper understanding of territorial issues surrounding the contested waters.

“Hindi na ako magsalita. Makikinig lang ako sa kaniya kasi siya ‘yung (I would no longer say anything. I would just listen to him because) he was there right at the beginning,” he said.

Duterte expressed hope that Enrile would accept his invitation.

He said it would be an honor to get Enrile’s insight because of the former public official’s reputation as an “intelligent and reputable” man.

“So sa kaniya ako makinig kasi sa kanya ako bilib sa utak at pagintindi nitong problema, itong ating West Philippine Sea (I would listen to him because I admire his intelligence and understanding of the problem with regard to the West Philippine Sea issue),” Duterte said. "I hope that Senator Enrile would accept the invitation to be our guest here [on] Monday."

Enrile has yet to respond to Duterte’s invitation.

In April 2019, Enrile lauded Duterte’s stance to negotiate with China on WPS in a peaceful manner.

Enrile said Duterte’s non-confrontational approach is a “wise move” to resolve the maritime dispute between the Philippines and China.

He said being “antagonistic” amid the sea row would only cause trouble.  Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos