Duterte ‘weakened’ PH claim over West Philippine Sea—Osmeña
President Rodrigo Duterte has “weakened” the country’s claim over the West Philippine Sea when he asked permission from China to allow Filipino fishermen to go back to Scarborough Shoal, former Senator Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III said on Monday.
Osmeña said the President did not only weaken the country’s stand on the disputed waters but he has also strengthened the China’s claim over it even after an international court ruling in favor of the Philippines.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) under the United Nations ruled last July in favor of the Philippines in its arbitration case against China over the South China Sea.
But the former senator noted that Duterte “has not made a big issue out of it.”
“As a matter of fact, he has weakened it somewhat and we’re hopeful that he’ll be able to find a way to go back to our original position which is the 200-kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone (EZZ) has been decided properly,” Osmeña said in an interview at the Senate before attending a hearing.
He said the Philippines’ claim over the West Philippine Sea weakened when Duterte negotiated with China to allow the Filipino fishermen to fish in Scarborough Shoal.
“So far officially he has not repudiated the PCA decision, he has not said yes the nine-dash line exists and it belongs to China but there are several steps that he has been doing that has weakened our position and has strengthened China’s position. Yung pag-negotiate sa (The negotiation in) Scarborough Shoal, that weakens our position. Why am I asking permission to fish on my own backyard?” Osmeña said.
“Alam mo, ang tingin sa atin ng buong mundo, napakahina naman ng tuhod ng Pilipino isang pitik lang lumluhod na sila (You know, the whole world thinks the Philippines has weak knees because it easily kneeled with just one flip),” he added.
Osmeña, who admitted encouraging Duterte to run for President, also scoffed at the President’s “mishandling” of the country’s foreign affairs, specially his plan to forge alliances with Russia and China.
“Ang sabi ni President Duterte, kaibigan ko yung Russia at China, hindi nakikialam (President Duterte said that he is a friend of Russia and China which don’t interfere [with human rights violations]). E they are the two biggest violators of human rights. How do you expect them to criticize human rights—China, Russia, North Korea,” he said.
He then reminded the President of diplomacy by using diplomatic language and not offensive words.
“Hindi pwedeng atras-abante (We should not complicate matters). It’s happening the whole time. The President would say something and it has to be explained again by one of his secretaries. Nagkakaloko-loko na ang secretaries kaka-explain (Secretaries are having difficulties in explaining).”
“We’re not supposed to make enemies, were supposed to make friends,” the former senator added.
While Duterte probably meant well, Osmeña said the President might have to learn the “niceties” of international diplomacy to avoid making enemies. RAM/rga
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