Former President, now Pampanga President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo insists President Duterte knows what he is doing amid criticisms over his handling of the country’s foreign policy relative to the maritime disputes in the west Philippine Sea. “He knows what he’s doing. he knows what he’s doing.” Arroyo responded when questionned about allegations that Duterte was bending over backwards for China.

asked about the impeachment case filed against President Duterte over his handling of the maritime disputes, Estelito Mendoza, a lawyer for Arroyo, said, “as president arroyo said we dont know all of the factsfrom what ive seen i think PRRD is navigating the troubled waters of the sea very well”

Arroyo resisted questions about what advice she would give Duterte, being a former president herself. But she pointed out that she had already advised Duterte before to look at the country’s economic interests in dealing with China. “You know i can only share what happened in my administration i dont know all the facts that are available to the current administration so i do not dare make any recommendations and i keep that attitude because of my own experience as president  there were so many people in peanut gallery telling me what to do and they did not have all facts at their disposal  as far as im concerned president duterte knows what he’s doing and i have no specific recommendations to make i have a general recommendation to make which i made during the NSC meeting that he held early in his administration and that is as far as china is concerned our staretgic direction should be to emphasize our economic relations and transcend to the extent we can matters that issue between us.”

asked about the President flipflopping on his pronouncement to ride a jetski to disputed waters with China, Arroyo said, “those are very tactical issues ive given a general recommendation that i made public that withchina lets concentrate on our economic ties and to the extent we can transcend matters that issue between us .”

Arroyo  had cited that the controversial Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking her administration had with China and Vietnam from 2005 to 2008 was proof of how working with economic interests in mind can lead to peace and stability in the region. However she refused to advice the President if such an undertaking should be done again. “well  as i said i cannot give specific recommendations because i do not know all the facts that are available to the current administration thats why when i give an opinion and i had done it and i have stated even in a  press con before it is strategic not operational or tactical”

Arroyo reiterated that JMSU, despite all questions raised against it, did not affect the country’s claims over the dispute areas.”because it is reserach project it is not even exploration its pre exploration research.”

Arroyo’s executive secretary Eduardo Ermita was also present and he weighed in. “a quetsion was asked whether this matter of joint undertaking will be recommended or how this can be resumed  we just want to inform you that the so called JMSU was agreed upon in 2005 march of 2005 between China Philippines and Vietnam and it had a life of 3 years that so on June 30 2008 it  had lasped  it depends on whatever information the adminsitration may get whether there was any benefit that we got out of this JMSU but i think the important thing is as expresed by GMA and atty mendoza  is that because of such undertaking there was no tension among claimant countries it was nothing but an agreement to gather data to find out  what is it you ca find in the area which later can be used ina future undertaking.  in the tripartite agreement it is explicitly stated that the agreement is just a pre exploratory activity and therefore should not be misconstrued otherwise.”

The JMSU came under fire before the end of the Arroyo administration with critics deriding it as a sellout of Philippine interests to China since it allegedly allowed China to explore deep within Philippine territory,