MANILA -- The Philippines is "quietly" protesting China's actions that violate the country's sovereignty, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque Jr. issued the statement after a Social Weather Stations poll last June showed that 4 in 5 Filipinos thought it was "not right" for Chinese military structures to be left alone in disputed territories.
"Wala pong government inaction na tinatawag. Kada meron pong ginagawa ang Tsina na labag sa ating soberenya, tayo po ay nagpo-protesta, pero ginagawa po natin iyan sa tahimik," Roque told radio dzRH.
(There is no such thing as government inaction. For every Chinese action that violates our sovereignty, we protest. But we protest quietly.)
The same poll of 1,200 adults from June 27 to 30 showed that 80 percent said the Philippines should increase its naval capability to resolve the West Philippine Sea conflict.
Another 74 percent said the dispute should be brought before international organizations while 73 percent said Manila should hold "direct, bilateral" negotiations with Beijing.
"So ang sinasabi ko po, iyong persepsiyon na dapat aktibo na pinaglalaban ang interest ng Pilipinas, tama po iyon. Dahil ang katotohanan, wala pong tigil sa paglalaban sa interest ng Pilipinas ang gobyerno ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte," Roque said.
(The perception that the government should be proactive in pursuing the country’s interests, that’s right. The truth is, there is no let up on the part of the government of President Rodrigo Duterte in terms of fighting for the country’s interests.)
In July 2016, a UN-backed arbitration tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines and said that China's vast sea claims had no legal basis.
Duterte's predecessor, former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino, initiated the case against China but the ruling was handed down less than a month after the incumbent assumed power.
Duterte refused to flaunt the arbitration ruling and instead sought closer economic and diplomatic ties with China as he sought to broaden the country's alliances.