Del Rosario chides Palace for apologetic tone on maritime dispute with China
MANILA, Philippines — Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has reproached Malacañang for taking an apologetic tone before China while asserting the Philippines’ sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.
“With deep respect, our people would need to ask: In asserting our lawful rights in the West Philippine Sea and taking a stand against being bullied, why is there a need for us to be apologetic?” the former chief diplomat said in a statement on Monday.
Del Rosario was reacting to the reported exchange between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping when the former raised the 2016 arbitral ruling during his visit to Beijing last week.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo quoted the President as telling Xi, “I didn’t want to alarm you with what I’m about to raise because of your problem in Hong Kong, which is why I’m asking for forgiveness, but I need to say this because I promised my countrymen.”
‘Unequivocal but friendly’
According to Panelo, the Chinese leader replied, “I understand and I am OK with it,” but reiterated his country’s rejection of the arbitral ruling.
Panelo said the President was “unequivocal but friendly” in invoking the ruling of the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
It was Del Rosario who spearheaded the country’s successful campaign that led to the arbitral ruling invalidating China’s dubious claims over most of the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, which lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Del Rosario was the foreign secretary in 2012 when China began to seize several Philippine features in the West Philippine Sea and transformed these into militarized man-made islands.
Meanwhile, Malacañang dismissed anew exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison’s criticisms of President Duterte’s recent visit to China as the rants of an “aging armchair passé rebel.”
Panelo said the Palace would not respond to Sison’s latest tirade, in which the latter called the President a traitor and a puppet of China.
“The Duterte presidency is engrossed in its constitutional duty of serving and protecting the Filipino people, that it has no time to waste in responding to the latest anti-Duterte statement of Jose Maria Sison,” Panelo said in a statement.
He maintained that the exiled communist leader’s latest statement was just “another arrant raving and incorrigible ranting coming from an aging armchair passé rebel, whose illusory vision has outsprinted the ticking hands of time.”
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