A former envoy of Manila to Washington on Wednesday expressed disagreement with President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that Philippine military joining patrols in contested waters would be a hostile act.
Ambassador Jose Cuisia, Manila's former envoy to Washington, told ANC's Headstart that the Philippines has been conducting joint patrols with other countries for several years now.
"This is part of our effort to, of course, increase capabilities of our navy, get them to be more familiar with more modern equipment," he said.
Duterte said in a speech before the Air Forces on Tuesday that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will neither hold nor be part of joint patrol activities in disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea.
READ: Duterte: PH will not join patrols in contested waters
"I will not allow it because I do not want my country to be involved in any hostile act," Duterte said.
"I do not want to ride gung-ho style with China there and America.
I just want to patrol our territorial waters," he added.
But Cuisia noted that China and Russia have recently held patrols in the South China Sea, so "it is wrong to say it’s a hostile act."
China's illegal seizure of Philippine territories is what is a hostile act, he said.
"If you talk about a hostile act, China has committed a hostile act against us by seizing territories from us—three reefs which clearly fall in our exclusive economic zone and that was confirmed in the arbitral tribunal decision, saying that this was an illegal act committed by China," he said.
The seizure of territory, he added, also goes against the Declaration of Conduct signed by China and the Southeast Asian nations in 2002.
Cuisia said, though it is good that Duterte has said the Philippines is not cutting ties with its allies, he does not agree with the latter's statement that American troops should leave Mindanao, noting that they have helped Philippine military go after terror group, Abu Sayyaf.
"They provided intelligence, they provided training and support, they provided troops with goggles with night vision that allowed them to pursue the Abu Sayyaf even at night," he said.
"There is a lot of assistance that is being provided by the US military to the Philippines. Why are we asking them to leave?," he added.
Malacañang has clarified that Duterte's statement that American forces, particularly those in Mindanao, must leave the Philippines was neither a policy nor a directive, but a "warning."