Philippines Disowns Alleged Deal With China on Disputed Sea

(Bloomberg) -- Any behind-the-scenes deal between China and the previous Philippine administration over the disputed South China Sea would be against the national interest and is no longer valid, a senior official of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s government said.

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“This administration is not aware of any secret or gentleman agreement and if there was such done under a previous administration, the same has been rescinded,” National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano said in a statement.

The Philippines, under Marcos, has asserted its claims in the South China Sea, boosting efforts to maintain a World War II-era ship that was deliberately grounded in 1999 to serve as Manila’s outpost in the Second Thomas Shoal.

Marcos’s predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, has said he struck a verbal agreement with China not to send construction materials for the ship’s repair and upkeep, according to ABS-CBN.

“We should not fall into a trap which clearly seeks to sow division in our country and weaken our resolve in asserting our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea,” Ano said, using Manila’s term for parts of the South China Sea that are within it exclusive economic zone.

--With assistance from Cliff Venzon.

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