President Duterte once more pinned the blame on the previous Aquino administration for ‘backing out’ of the Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) off the coast of Zambales province back in 2012.
“Alam mo, isang tanong lang ako kay Carpio pati kay Albert. Kung bright kayo, bakit nawala ang West Philippine Sea sa atin? Panahon ninyo ‘yon eh. Panahon ninyo na talagang nandiyan kayo sa puwesto (You know, I have one question to Carpio and Albert. If you are bright, why did we lose West Philippine Sea? That your time. That your time that you are in position),” he said during his weekly televised “Talk to the People” that was moved from Monday to Wednesday night.
Duterte was referring to former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, both outspoken critics of the President’s stand on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue.
Carpio and Del Rosario led the filing of the arbitral tribunal case in 2012 before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) at The Hague in The Netherlands under the laws of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which China is a signatory to.
This was after the 2012 standoff at the Scarborough Shoal where, from April to mid-June 2012, the two countries’ military vessels had a standoff. But on June 15, the Philippines ordered its vessel to retreat after a deal supposedly brokered by the United States persuaded China to do the same.
Beijing is believed to have reneged on the deal as it does not want to seem weak domestically. Since then, China has had construction and reclamation activities in the shoal, which resulted in the Philippines’ filing of protest before the international court.
Duterte said Del Rosario was to blame for asking the Philippine Navy to back out from the shoal.
“Ngayon ng — ngayon na ang China nandoon — ang China na ang naghahawak doon, ako na ‘yong — ako na ‘yong niluluslos ninyo na maggawa ng paraan (Now that China is there—China is in control there—you are forcing me to do something),” he added.
The Philippines would have not needed the arbitral ruling, which was awarded in 2016 shortly after he won, “because it (shoal) is ours” if the former Foreign Affairs chief did not heed the Americans’ request for the country to back out.
“Sana sinabi mo ‘yong (You should have said) we will stand our ground. We will not retreat. We will not get out of the West Philippine Sea because it’s ours. And we are calling or at least an offer from the United States to send a flotilla of ships to — para (to) to back us up,” Duterte said.
He also earlier warned Carpio, who said Duterte doesn’t need to go to war with China to impose the arbitral ruling, to not meddle in politics.
The Chief Executive touted Carpio, who was a Supreme Court associate justice then, on why he didn’t advise former President Benigno Aquino III on how to deal with the WPS issue.
“Instead, nag-retreat kayo. Ang naabutan ko, talo na tayo (you retreated. I came here, we already lost),” he stressed.