“Our vessels will continue to patrol relevant areas to firmly assert what is ours,” Duterte said in a statement, which presidential spokesman Harry Roque read out. “The Philippine Navy, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will be where they need to be.”
While Manila would not waver in its position, the Philippines must be willing to resolve disputes peacefully and through diplomatic means, the statement said. “The Department of Foreign Affairs as lead agency will be at the forefront in advancing our interest, harnessing time-honored principles of international law,” Duterte’s statement said. Meanwhile, during a weekly cabinet meeting that was broadcast live on national TV on Monday night, the president imposed a gag order on cabinet members.