Duterte not 'sole authorized agent' to allow China in Philippine EEZ — Del Rosario

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Duterte not 'sole authorized agent' to allow China in Philippine EEZ â Del Rosario
Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario answers questions from the media after a forum on the third anniversary of the Philippines' arbitral victory at University of the Philippines Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.
Philstar.com / Patricia Lourdes Viray

MANILA, Philippines — Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario backed the latest pronouncements of President Rodrigo Duterte on giving access to China in the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Earlier this week, the president admitted that Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio was correct when he said that conceding the sovereign claims over Scarborough Shoal was an impeachable offense.

"I said we cannot barter which is not ours, it belongs to the Filipino people. I cannot be the sole authorized agent for that is not allowed under the Constitution. Tama siya," Duterte said.

Speaking at a forum on the West Philippine Sea, Del Rosario said Duterte's latest remarks on the EEZ is consistent with the Constitution and puts the interests of the Filipinos first.

"We believe that this position of the president is what the people want not only in Scarborough Shoal, but also in our EEZ, which includes the West Philippine Sea," Del Rosario said in his speech.

The top diplomat reiterated that Duterte and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are constitutionally mandated to secure national territory, including the country's EEZ in the West Philippine Sea.

Del Rosario, who led the Philippines in filing an arbitration against China's expansive claims, also raised questions surrounding the supposed fishing deal that Duterte made with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"Is this to be viewd as a successful Chinese invasion without a shot being fired? Is this now a Philippine policy?" Del Rosario asked.

"And when will be stop giving our northern neighbor primacy over that of our own people? When will Filipinos be first and not last, in our own country?" he added.

Duterte and Xi did not sign a document over the supposed fishing deal between the Philipines and China in the West Philippine Sea. 

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo insisted that the verbal deal between the two leaders was legally binding while Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said this was not policy as there was no document signed.

Citing a Social Weather Stations survey that showed 93% of Filipinos think it is important for the Philippines to regain control of China-occupied islands in the West Philippine Sea, Del Rosario said the government must heed the call of the Filipino people.

"The government must listen to its people," Del Rosario said.

The former top diplomat lamented how the Duterte administration shelved the Philippines' arbitral victory, which was issued exactly three years ago.

Shelving the arbitral ruling that invalidated Beijing's historic claims over the South China Sea have resulted to more unlawful acts of intimidation and bullying in the contested waterway, Del Rosario said.

"Given the unfortunate decision to shelve the award, it falls on us ordinary Filipinos to find creative and viable means to enforce the award, so we may be able to defend and preserve our national patrimony — including the West Philippine Sea, not only for ourselves, but for our children and those yet unborn," the former top diplomat said.

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