Press Release
July 22, 2023

Tolentino defends Duterte over China visit: He did his part for the Filipinos

MANILA - Senator Francis 'TOL' N. Tolentino defended former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte following his recent trip to the People's Republic of China earlier this week.

During an interview with CNN Philippines, Tolentino said that Duterte, just like other current and former world leaders, wants "to have a peaceful Indo-Pacific region" amid the ongoing tensions between claimant states--including the disputed territories within the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

"I'm not privy to what was discussed but I think the president, former President Duterte, did his part for the Filipino nation. I think even the president, President BBM, took note of that," said Tolentino on Friday.

"Any cooperation that would bring about peace and regional stability should be accessed, should be taken into account," the senator added.

Duterte on Monday privately met with Chinese President Xi Jinping inside the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. Xi reportedly asked the country's former leader to continue promoting "friendly cooperation" between Manila and Beijing.

Tolentino, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, maintained that "diplomacy would have to play a role" in achieving peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

The senator, who previously served as Duterte's political adviser, believed that the former leader also only wants peace and stability to succeed in the entire Indo-Pacific region, just like the rapprochement efforts being done by other countries in Asia-Pacific, particularly the United States.

Meanwhile, Tolentino also lauded President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s dynamic stance in handling the geopolitical issue along the WPS especially after appointing outgoing Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Andres Centino as the new Presidential Adviser on West Philippine Sea.

"So lahat po ito tama eh, kasi ang laki po ng saklaw at ang dami pong nangyayari araw-araw," Tolentino stressed.

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