President Duterte’s remark that he “cannot afford to be brave in the mouth against China” is shameful to the Filipino people, Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday, stressing that his “number one obligation” is to fight for the country’s rights.
“You know, you will just sigh when you read the statement of the president and (Defense) Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana,” she said in Filipino during her weekly radio show.
Despite repeatedly saying that the Philippines values its independence and sovereignty, Robredo lamented that the country’s leader seems to be scared of Beijing.
“Kasi parati natin sinasabi na pinahahalagahan natin ‘yung sarili nating kasarinlan. Hindi pwede iyong desisyon natin dahil natatakot tayo sa iba. Hindi naman tayo nakikipag-away eh. Pinaglalaban lang natin ‘yun lg dapat sa atin. Pinaglalaban lang natin iyong karapatan natin. Kapag hindi natin maipaglaban ito dahil takot tayo sa kanila nakakahiya naman sa atin (We always say that we value our independence. We cannot decide (not to act) because we are scared of others. We are not getting into a fight. We are just going to fight for what should be ours. We are just fighting for our rights. When we cannot fight because we are scared of them, it is embarrassing to ourselves),” she said.
Duterte made his defeatist remark when referring to China’s new Coast Guard law that will allow it to fire at foreign vessels in contested waters in the West Philippine Sea, the islands and waters of which are being claimed by China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei.
The President said he is avoiding a confrontation with China because “that would lead to something which we can hardly afford, at least not at this time.”
But Robredo said that being afraid is not an excuse not to protect the rights of the Filipinos.
“We are not like that. It is sad to read that we are not going to act because we are afraid and China is watching us. What is that? We cannot protect ourselves because we are scared of them?” she asked.