MANILA - Former senator Juan Ponce Enrile advised President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday to just ignore his critics regarding the issue of China and the West Philippine Sea.
Enrile said it's the best thing Duterte can do, claiming the Philippines will lose more if it antagonizes China.
"That's the best thing Mr. President. Pabayaan mo na lang sila (Just ignore them.)," he said.
"After all Mr. President, you are only responsible to the Filipino people, and you are not responsible to any specific person for your foreign policy. Yours is to protect the interest of the nation and its people in the best way you can," Enrile added.
Duterte replied that his critics have become "irrelevant" after talking to the former senator and defense minister.
"I hope that we would be able to weather any trouble with China now and in the future for as long as it's very dangerous for us," he said.
Earlier in the meeting, Enrile also advised Duterte to keep a "friendly" approach to China in resolving its incursions in the West Philippine Sea.
"Kailangan na friendly ang approach natin d’yan, hindi hard assertive and aggressive approach," Enrile told Duterte in a taped meeting.
(Our approach there should be friendly, not hard and aggressive.)
Chinese vessels continue to encroach into the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines in the waterway.