'Just a piece of paper': Duterte says he will 'throw away' Philippines' arbitral win vs China

MANILA, Philippines — Comparing the Philippines' award in the West Philippine Sea arbitration to a piece of paper, President Rodrigo Duterte said he will just "throw it away."

In July 2016, The Hague-based United Nations-backed tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China's nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

The Duterte administration, however, opted to "set aside" the arbitral ruling to seek Chinese loans and investments.

READ: DFA calls for restraint, sobriety after tribunal favors Philippines

"Iyang papel sa totoong buhay between nations, iyang papel wala 'yan. Kung sino 'yong tigas, United States, Britain 'yan, pagka ginusto nilang ganyan gawin. Tayo nanalo. Ngayon pagdating ko ang barko nandiyan sa West Philippine Sea, China boat, ship, tayo wala na," Duterte said in a recorded speech aired Wednesday night.

(That paper in reality between nations, that paper is nothing. Whoever is tough, the United States, the United Kingdom, they can do whatever they want. We won. When I came into office the ships where already in the West Philippine Sea, Chinese boats, we have nothing.)

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The president also narrated how he "pursued" the arbitral ruling but "nothing happened."

"Sa usapang bugoy, sabihin ko sa iyo ibigay mo sa'kin, sabihin ko sa'yo putang ina, papel lang 'yan. Itatapon ko 'yan sa wastebasket," Duterte said.

(Actually, I'll tell you to give it to me, I'll tell you son of a bitch it's just a piece of paper. I'll throw that in the wastebasket.)

Duterte proceeded to recall his previous conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, telling the latter that he will go to where there is oil in the West Philippine Sea.

Xi: You do not do that.
Duterte: Why, Mr. President? That’s ours. We are claiming it as ours.
Xi: Yes, but whatever your claim is, do not do that.
Duterte: Why?
Xi: Do not do that because there might be trouble.

The president has been insisting that invoking the Philippines' arbitral victory in the West Philippine Sea would constitute going to war with China.

READ: How the Hague court ruled on the Philippines’s 15 arguments

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, who led the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea arbitration, earlier pointed out that Duterte disregarded the arbitral ruling in exchange for billions of investments.

"Instead, President Duterte did not waste time in advancing his declared embrace of Xi Jinping when he very quickly shelved the Arbitral Award in exchange for a promised $24 billion in Chinese investments and assistance, which, until now, has not materialized," Del Rosario said in a statement last week.

Del Rosario also stressed that it was Beijing that "deceitfully breached" its agreement with Manila to withdraw its ship from Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in 2012.

Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, part of the Philippine delegation in the West Philippine Sea arbitration, earlier said that Duterte himself is a challenge for enforcing the landmark ruling.

"Shout out to President Duterte that China is not in possession of the WPS. Shout out loud so that President Duterte will wake up from his deep sleep under the kulambo and admit to the nation the truth — that China is not in possession of the WPS," Carpio said last week. — Patricia Lourdes Viray with report from Christian Deiparine

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