Sue us, says Palace amid outcry over gov’t ‘inaction’ on sea row
Two years after the Philippines won its case against China at The Hague, Malacañang hit back at its critics and dared them to file cases before the court over allegations of government inaction on the South China Sea dispute.
President Rodrigo Duterte has chosen to set aside a tribunal ruling that invalidated China’s claim to nearly all of the South China Sea as he took a “soft-landing” approach and initiated bilateral talks with Beijing.
Bring it to court, file impeach case
Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay on Thursday said the inaction of Duterte on imposing The Hague ruling was a ”culpable violation of the Constitution” and “a betrayal of public trust.”
“I’d say that it is a culpable violation of the Constitution, it’s a betrayal of public trust,” Hilbay said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
“He should file [an] impeachment [case] if he wants. He’s welcome, it’s a free country,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.
But Hilbay said it would be “politically difficult” to impeach the President.
“[O]f course, politically, it might be difficult to impeach him given the strength of his numbers in the Congress,” he said.
Roque also welcomes those who were planning to file a case before the Supreme Court to compel the Department of Foreign Affairs to release to the public its diplomatic actions against China’s militarization in the disputed sea.
“It’s a free country, they can file it. And we will meet them in court. I do not know what else they want,” he said.
The Palace official reiterated that the government has raised its protest during China’s reported militarization in the South China Sea during the Philippines-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism.
“So we have said all these, we are not hiding what we’ve been doing to protect our sovereignty and sovereign rights in the disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
Not an authority
Roque also criticized the remarks of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario that the Philippines has been a “willing victim” and an “abettor” of China in the South China Sea dispute.
“That’s his view. I don’t know what makes him an authority to give that view,” he said.
Critics have slammed the Duterte administration for not enforcing the arbitral ruling two years after the United Nations arbitral tribunal invalidated China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.
“I’m not sure what they mean by enforcing an arbitral decision because an arbitral decision is binding on parties thereto,” he said.
“It clearly underscores the fact that some individuals including the former [secretary] of Foreign Affairs do not fully comprehend the nature of arbitration,” he added.
Since he assumed office in June 2016, Duterte has chosen to take a “soft-landing” approach in dealing with China on the maritime dispute as he tried to mend the strained relations between Beijing and Manila. /jpv
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