Morales, Del Rosario: Duterte ‘broke’ promise to protect PH territory
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte “broke” his promise that he would not bargain the Philippines’ maritime territory during his visit to China in 2016, two former senior government officials have said, adding that “[w]e must stop giving China primacy over that of our own people.”
“To paraphrase President Duterte’s October 16, 2016 departure speech, as he embarked on State visits to Brunei Darussalam and China, he cannot be the ‘sole authorized agent’ to share with the Chinese, our [exclusive economic zone] which belongs exclusively to the Filipino people,” former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said in a joint statement Wednesday.
“But apparently with China’s threat of war as claimed, President Duterte broke the following promise: ‘I will be very careful not to bargain anything for, after all, I cannot give what is not mine and which I am not empowered to do by any sketch of imagination’,” they also said, quoting Duterte’s own speech before departing to Brunei and China in 2016.
During his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona), Duterte recounted Chinese President Xi Jinping’s warning that there would be trouble if the Philippines presses its claims in the South China Sea.
Duterte also defended the verbal fishing pact he forged with Xi in October 2016 during his state visit to China.
But it was only in June 2019 when Duterte bared his verbal agreement with Xi allowing the Chinese to fish in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“This is worrying because the President and the military are constitutionally mandated to secure the integrity of our national territory, which includes our EEZ and the West Philippine Sea,” Morales and Del Rosario continued.
“The West Philippine Sea belongs exclusively to Filipinos, not to China. We must stop giving China primacy over that of our own people. When will Filipinos be [first] and not [last], in our own country?” they further said.
Manila and Beijing have long been locked in a maritime dispute and in 2013, the Philippines filed a case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague in The Netherlands challenging China’s nine-dash line which covers nearly the entire South China Sea.
The Hague-based court then ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016 invalidating China’s nine-dash line.
Duterte, however, has played down the ruling and opted to warm ties with China as he sought economic and trade investments from the Asian superpower. /kga
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