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PH challenges China to prove Ayungin Shoal 'deal'

Metro Manila, August 10 ------ The Philippines is urging China to show documents or proof to back its claims that Manila had promised to remove the decades-old warship BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal.

In a forum organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson Jonathan Malaya reiterated the position of the Philippine government that it did not promise China anything. "If China is talking about a legally enforceable agreement, a commitment that's legally binding then we challenge them to produce that agreement signed by a duly authorized representative of the Philippines saying that we promise to abandon or to tow away BRP Sierra Madre," Malaya said.

The NSC official also said he has reached out to former and current administration officials and none of them validated the statements of Beijing. "As far as we know and we have talked to officials from the previous, I am talking to many administrations and there has been no such promise. Maybe they are just talking to low level individuals in the hierarchy," he said.

Malaya was spokesperson and assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government during the Duterte administration. Former President Rodrigo Duterte pursued closer ties with China during his term – repeatedly stating that Manila cannot afford to go to war with Beijing.



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