MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has said he would turn to former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile for advice on the West Philippine Sea because "he was there from the beginning."
Duterte, speaking to some Cabinet members in a taped meeting that aired on Friday, said he "respectfully invited Senator Enrile to come here."
"Pakinggan natin s'ya. Hindi na ako magsalita, makikinig lang ako sa kanya kasi siya 'yung—he was there right at the beginning,"
"Sa kaniya ako makinig, sa kaniya ako bilib sa utak at pag-intindi nitong problema, itong ating West Philippine Sea."
(Let us listen to him. I will not talk, I will just listen to him because he was there right at the beginning. I will listen to him because I admire his mind, his understanding of this problem, our West Philippine Sea.)
Duterte added that he invited Enrile to Malacañang because he could not go out to talk.
The Philippines remains locked in a dispute with China as the latter continues incursions in the West Philippine Sea, the country's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
Manila has filed a flurry of diplomatic protests against Beijing as its ships lingered in the country's EEZ. China has continued to ignore a July 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated its expansive claims in the South China Sea.
The President did not say what prompted him to consult Enrile.
In 2012, Enrile questioned backdoor negotiations of former senator Antonio Trillanes IV with Chinese officials about the waterway.
Trillanes is a vocal critic of Duterte. The former lawmaker said earlier this week he was eyeing the presidency in 2022.
Video courtesy of PTV