MANILA - Malacañang said it will do nothing about the posters tagging Philippines as a province of China but it was sure the installation of the banners was the handiwork of government enemies.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippines continue to assert its sovereignty and sovereign rights in its territories that are the disputed areas in the South China Sea.
"It's absurd. I'm sure it's the enemies of the government that's behind it. So to them, try again. You need a better gimmick than that," he said in a press briefing.
Roque said he has no idea whose group was behind the banners but he said these people wanted to propagate a lie.
"Wala po kaming gagawin. Pero I'm sure may mga taong nais kunin 'yung tarp para gamitin siguro pamunas ng sahig or something... o ilalagay sa kubeta," he said.
(We will not do anything about it. But I'm sure there are people who would want to take those tarps so they can use it to wipe the floor or something, or put them in the toilet.)
The red banners with the words "Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China" were hung in time for the second anniversary of the Philippines' win over China in an international arbitration court.
The message, which was a reference to a joke made by President Rodrigo Duterte before, was written in both English and Mandarin. The banners had a similar design and also bore the Chinese flag. It was not immediately clear who installed the signs.
"We assure the public on the second year anniversary that we will continue to assert what is ours while we move on with our bilateral relations with China," Roque said.
He said issues on sovereignty on the disputed areas of South China Sea will take many years to resolve because they were not a subject of the arbitral ruling that the country won two years ago.