Duterte's West Philippine Sea remarks can be taken as 'surrendering' to China — Del Rosario

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Duterte's West Philippine Sea remarks can be taken as 'surrendering' to China â Del Rosario
FILE - This undated image shows businessman Albert del Rosario, who served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs under the administration of former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
AFP / File

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea is incorrect, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a virtual forum organized by the Rotary Club of Makati, the former top diplomat said the president's remarks could be taken as an "admission against Philippine interest."

"China is not in full possession of the West Philippine Sea. If the Philippines takes that attitude, it can be construed by the president... surrendering Philippine interest," Del Rosario said.

Asked if Duterte was clueless about this, Del Rosario said this might not be the case.

"He could be clueless but we don't think that he is. On the contrary, we think he is deliberate and this makes it more dangerous because he clearly stands with China," Del Rosario said.

Combine diplomacy, show of force

Del Rosario, who led the Philippines in the South China Sea arbitration, added that combining diplomacy with a show of force is a good strategy to drive away China in the West Philippine Sea.

Beijing continues to reject the arbitral ruling that invalidated its expansive claims in the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

"In approaching the [United Nations], our humble proposal is for the president to task the Department of Foreign Affairs to formulate a strategy on how the global village of nations can be convinced to take a stand in the rule of law in support of the Philippines," the former DFA chief said.

During the 75th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2020, Duterte declared that the 2016 arbitral award is "part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon.

Del Rosario, however, said Duterte's should go further than giving a speech before the UN, such as seeking for a resolution so that the General Assembly could discuss the West Philippine Sea issue.

According to the former top diplomat, raising the Philippines' case before the UNGA would compel China to abide by the arbitral award.

Del Rosario, along with retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and retired Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, are pushing through with their complaint against Chinese officials before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, Justice Antonio Carpio and I will also try to move forward our communication in the [International Criminal Court] charging (Chinese President) Xi Jinping, (Chinese foreign minister) Wang Yi and others for crimes against humanity with regards to our livelihood and food security as a result of China's illegal actions," he said.

On Monday night, Duterte again played down the 2016 arbitral ruling, saying that it has become meaningless. The president earlier said the landmark award is "just a piece of paper" that he will "throw away."

"I was frank enough in the early days and I said that might makes it right. And we are not unfortunately on the side of might so we cannot do anything because we cannot be in parity in force and in all so we have to talk, just talk and talk until such time, by the grace of God, if there is an opportune time for all of these things to correct itself maybe," Duterte said.






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