MANILA - Former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on Friday refused to grade the performance of President Rodrigo Duterte but agreed with most of his policies, specifically on crime, on China, and the economy.
Speaking to reporters after his pre-trial at the Sandiganbayan, Enrile said he agrees with the policy of President Duterte on being friendly with China instead of asserting the victory of the Philippines at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
“They have aircraft carriers. They have submarines. Missiles. What do we have? Kwitis," he said, referring to a type of locally manufactured firecrackers.
He added he does not believe Duterte is compromising the country’s sovereignty in his negotiations with China.
“At least they are talking to us. The moment they ignore us then we should worry. They are reaching us, we should welcome it,” he said.
Enrile also said he believes the "Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China" tarpaulins, which surfaced across the capital on the anniversary of Manila's arbitration victory over Beijing, were done by pranksters.
"Well there are various elements in the country who would like to cause trouble internally," he said.
The rising numbers of killings, whether drug suspects, local officials or ordinary citizens do not worry Enrile.
“Crimes must be suppressed, laws must be enforced. That’s why you have the police and military for that,” he said.
Unlike critics of the President, Enrile said no one can blame the President for the rising costs of fuel and other basic commodities as these are affected by external factors such as increasing price of crude oil.
“He is not Superman to be able to control that, not even America can control it,” Enrile said.
Enrile said he was invited to the State of the Nation Address of the President later this month but he will be in the province and will not be able to come.