Duterte remark to ‘set aside’ arbitral ruling ‘very dangerous’— law dean
A law dean on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that we would “set aside” the international arbitration tribunal’s ruling favoring the Philippines’ claims to the South China Sea was “very dangerous.”
San Beda Graduate School of Law Dean Fr. Ranhillo Aquino said China might use Duterte’s statement to their advantage in pressing their claims on the disputed seas in the future.
Aquino noted that being friendlier to China was different from giving up the country’s sovereign rights.
“I want to see that there are two ways of interpreting that. Una kung ang ibig niyang sabihin huwag na munang pagtalunan ang mga karapatan ng Pilipinas sa ilalim ng desisyon na ‘yan at makikipagkaibigan na muna tayo. No problem diyan because it is a matter of foreign strategy and diplomatic negotiation,” Aquino said over church-run Radyo Veritas.
(First, he could mean that we shouldn’t fight over the Philippines’ rights under that decision and that we should be amicable. That’s no problem because it is a matter of foreign strategy and diplomatic negotiation.)
“Pero kung ang ibig niyang sabihin, ay sa atin dito sa Pilipinas balewala ang desisyon ng arbitral tribunal, we are willing to ignore that, walang karapatan ang isang pangulo na gumawa niyan kasi those are sovereign rights and the worst thing about that, sa international law kapag magbigay ng pahayag ang isang head ng state kahit walang kasulatan that can be binding on the state,” he added.
(But if he means that the decision of the arbitral tribunal doesn’t mean anything to the Philippines, we are willing to ignore that, a President has no right to do that because those are sovereign rights and the worst thing about that is in international law, if a head of state makes a statement even without writ, that can be binding on the state.)
Speaking upon his arrival from his state visits to Cambodia and Singapore last week, Duterte said he would not press China on the historic arbitral ruling, which invalidated the Asian superpower’s claims to almost all of the South China Sea.
“I will not impose anything on China. Why? Because the politics here in Southeast Asia is changing. Like us now, I will separate or I will demand that you [US forces] go out of my country,” Duterte said.
But Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay clarified that Duterte will “not deviate” from the arbitral decision and that the Philippine government “reaffirms its respect for and firm adherence to this milestone ruling and will be guided by its parameters when tackling the issue of maritime claims in the South China Sea.”
Aquino said it was the mandate of Duterte as President to affirm and protect the Philippines’ sovereign rights under the Constitution. He also expressed fear that the President’s statement may be used by China against the Philippines should the government or future administrations decide to pursue the country’s claims.
“Ang takot ko diyan later on under different administration or even under his administration, we will decide to pursue our claims, pwede sabihin ng China ‘eh sinabi na ninyo noon na balewala sa inyo ang desisyon ng arbitral tribunal’ kasi sa international law ang unilateral declarations are binding,” Aquino said.
(My fear is that later on under different administration or even under his administration, we will decide to pursue our claims, and China can say that the decision of the arbitral tribunal didn’t mean anything to us because in international law, the unilateral declarations are binding.)
“Ang pinag-uusapan diyan ang karapatan na nauukol sa Republika ng Pilipinas sa ilalim ng Batas at hindi mo puwedeng ipamigay ang mga karapatan na ‘yan dahil ang mandato ng Presidente ay ipagtanggol ang Saligang Batas at ang karapatan ng Pilipinas,” the priest added.
(What’s being discussed here is the right of the Republic of the Philippines under the law and we cannot give away our right because the President’s mandate is to defend the Constitution and the Philippines’ rights.) JE
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.