The Chinese president will arrive in the country before noon on Tuesday for a two-day State Visit. At least 35 bilateral agreements are expected to be signed during the Chinese leader’s visit.
Etienne Oliveau/Pool Photo via AP
Hilbay: Duterte rolling out red carpet for China's West Philippine Sea rule
( - November 20, 2018 - 11:02am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping for his state visit but critics are saying it may also be President Rodrigo Duterte setting the red carpet for China's rule over the West Philippine Sea.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay called Xi’s state visit as President Rodrigo Duterte “[rolling] out [of] the red carpet for China’s rule over the West Philippine Sea.”

In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague, Netherlands issued a landmark ruling invalidating China's nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters.

Hilbay was a key figure in the Philippines’ legal team that argued for, and won, the landmark ruling that favored the country.

The Chinese president will arrive in Manila before noon on Tuesday for a two-day state visit. At least 35 bilateral agreements are expected to be signed during the Chinese leader’s visit.

Hilbay: Joint exploration deal 'unconstitutional'

Hilbay said that a joint exploration deal with China is “illegal and unconstitutional” as it essentially constitutes a waiver to the historic ruling handed down by the Hague court on the maritime dispute.

The former solicitor general stressed that the Philippines’ victory “meant we could uphold our economic sovereignty and have full control over the resources in that area.”

“For Duterte to bargain this way and let China have their own way over our natural resources is a complete betrayal of the trust that the Filipino people gave him in May 2016,” Hilbay added.

'Filipinos' sovereign interests must come first'

ACT, meanwhile, said that Xi’s state visit “has all the makings of the classic historical treatment of China to its southern neighbors as tributary and vassal states."

It noted that Duterte’s pivot to China points to a state leader “welcoming a superior master to its humble abode.”

ACT stressed that the Duterte administration had chosen to “remain silent on the repeated violations of China” against the country’s sovereign rights, gone soft in pursuing Chinese drug lords and “looked the other way while Chinese fishermen and members of the Chinese navy continuously harass Philippine fisherfolk preventing our own citizens from fishing in our own waters.”

 ACT added that the government should put the people’s sovereign interests first in its dealings with foreign governments before “the foreign masters that it seeks to please.”

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon expressed hope that Duterte would discuss the reported delays in the release of Chinese loans and investments in Xi’s state visit.

The senator noted that most of the government’s "Build, Build, Build" program rely on Chinese loans, and the delay in the release would result in a holdup in the infrastructure program as well.

“It has been two years since the government has pivoted to China and signed various loan agreements, but until now there are no clear signs that these loans and investment pledges are going to be delivered soon, except for some minor projects,” the senator added. — Kristine Joy Patag

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