President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he would ignore critics of his foreign policy after seeking the advice of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on the West Philippine Sea.
Agreeing with Enrile that his responsibility is to the Filipino people and to just let his detractors be, Duterte said his critics have become "irrelevant" to him.
"Maybe, I will just ignore my critics so [as] not to derail me from my official duties and I will just say 'well, after talking to Sen. Enrile, you guys have become irrelevant to me'," Duterte said.
Duterte explained that his actions involving China have courted criticism such as his appeal for COVID-19 vaccines from the economic superpower as tensions in the West Philippine Sea persist.
Enrile advised Duterte to keep a friendly stance towards China instead of being "aggressive," saying Manila has "no choice" but to negotiate with Beijing.
"Realistically, we cannot ignore China. We have to deal with China," Enrile said.
The 76-year-old Duterte invited the 97-year-old Enrile to Malacañang to get the nonagenarian's insights on the Philippines' maritime dispute with China. Duterte's administration has courted fresh criticism for its handling of the dispute.
Duterte had maintained that he would not pull out the country's patrols in the West Philippine Sea, telling China that the two countries need not go to war over their maritime dispute.
As of May 9, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said 287 Chinese militia ships were still "scattered" off various features of the Philippines' Kalayaan municipality in the Spratlys.
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