Del Rosario recounts ‘chaotic’ acts for Phl
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - June 25, 2018 - 12:00am

Former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario worries that his friend defense chief Delfin Lorenzana is being used for pro-Beijing propaganda. The latter had compared in an interview: “President Duterte is handling very well the Philippine maritime row in the South China Sea (SCS). Aquino mismanaged the dispute with China ... everything was chaotic.” That made del Rosario recount the supposed “chaos.” Excerpts:

“One government defended what is ours by politics and diplomacy. It brought our dispute to the Arbitral Tribunal at The Hague, resulting in victory for Filipinos. Another government, after being awarded the invaluable victory, immediately shelved it, avoiding the task of managing what had been handed down. No basis for comparison.

“When we first met, President Xi Jinping asserted that China had indisputable sovereignty over the SCS by its nine-dash line. I stated that the nine-dash line was an excessive claim in violation of international law. Dialogue shifted to other topics but came back to a restatement of China’s position over and over, eliciting the same response from us. We were asked to acquiesce; we did not. If this is deemed as chaos, so be it.

“Meetings with China’s Foreign Minister were more of the same. We were being influenced to be acquiescent to China’s position, but we firmly asserted that what is ours is ours. We filed nearly 50 formal written protests. China continued its increasing anger against the Philippines. If this is deemed as chaos, so be it.

“I was asked in Washington, DC, by our treaty ally about the situation with China. I told the Secretaries of State and of Defense that I felt like a scrawny kid in a schoolyard controlled by a bully. The bully always beats me up. After the many physical abuses, I thought this bully must have a vulnerability. Since he told me constantly not to mention being beaten up by him, I discovered his vulnerability. He did not want to be internationalized. We decided to tell the world about the bully, his power agenda, and the importance of a rules-based order. If this is deemed as chaos, so be it.

“During the impasse at Scarborough Shoal, we were approached by the US, for China and the Philippines simultaneous to withdraw ships. We agreed. At the appointed time, we withdrew. China did not – in violation of agreement. We had to deal with powerful China whose declarations were inconsistent. Other nations, we discovered, had the same difficulty dealing with our northern neighbor. If this is deemed as chaos, so be it.

“Amid China’s unlawful expansion, including artificial island building, we led in upholding the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the SCS, and adherence to rule of law. Our efforts were opposed by China and its proxies in ASEAN. We made an appeal for support by quoting Martin Niemoller: ‘First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.’ If this is deemed as chaos, so be it.

“At every opportunity, no matter the odds, we defended what is ours. Prior to a Leaders’ meet, I received word from Sec. Hillary Clinton that China was to silence the Philippines and for me to secure my back. The organizers made sure I would not be able to speak. I asked Secretary Clinton if she could speak about the SCS and I would merge in at the end. Able to intervene I began speaking about the SCS when the microphone went dead. After persisting by standing and raising the volume of my message to promote the Philippine position, they restored the power. If this is deemed as chaos, so be it.

“On another Leaders meet, when it was time to release a final statement of matters discussed, the ASEAN chair decided on China’s behest to omit the topic of the SCS. We insisted that the matter be included to reflect the facts, not only in protection of Philippine interests, but also that of other ASEAN members strongly in favor of right. For the first time ASEAN had no final statement. If this is deemed as chaos, so be it.

“President Aquino and I had nearly 200 bilaterals in which we promoted the Philippine position on the SCS. He encouraged me to speak each year before the UN General Assembly to promote our position. We garnered support of many countries, which would have continued their support when we won our case. If this is deemed as chaos, so be it.

“We resorted to the Arbitral Tribunal, the results of which are now history. Contrary to China’s opinion, the UN declared that filing for arbitration is not an unfriendly act. If this is deemed as chaos, so be it.

“In 2015 we travelled twice to Washington to seek assistance in responding to China’s unlawful activities in the SCS. We convinced the State Department to undertake joint patrols – subsequently objected to by President Duterte’s government. If this is deemed as chaos, so be it.”

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