(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines — Following his brother’s denial of circulating claims, Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada likewise asserted that their father – former President Joseph Estrada – did not make an agreement to remove BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.
“During my phone conversation today with former Senator Orly Mercado, who held the position of Defense Secretary during my father’s tenure, he confirmed that there was no agreement or promise whatsoever made to the Chinese government,” said Jinggoy Estrada in a statement on Monday.
“Any assertion of such a commitment contradicts the rationale behind the government’s decision at that time to station BRP Sierra Madre at the shoal. This move was primarily undertaken to assert our country’s claim and establish a presence in the area,” he added.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. earlier stated that no promises were made to remove the vessel grounded at Ayungin Shoal, but he reiterated that should agreement exist, he rescinds it.
This, according to Estrada, further renders the debate about a possible promise made during former President Estrada’s tenure to the Chinese government irrelevant.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Chinese Embassy in Manila Zhou Zhiyong, said it has been 24 years since the Philippines has vowed to tow away BRP Sierra Madre.
Zhou also claimed that this commitment was “well-documented and put on record.”