Ex-DFA chief to Duterte administration: Why chastise Filipinos defending PH against China?

Published May 2, 2021, 7:21 PM

by Roy Mabasa

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario is puzzled on why Filipinos who are wanting to defend the country are the ones being chastised by the administration of President Duterte rather than going after China which has been taking away land and waters belonging to the Philippines.

Former DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario (Manila Bulletin)

Del Rosario was actually responding to the reported criticisms made by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea against him and retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio for their blaming of the President on China’s continuous aggressive stance in the West Philippine Sea.

In an open letter addressed to Medialdea, Del Rosario maintained that the President is being relied upon by the Filipino people to lead in resolving challenges to sovereignty as prescribed under the Constitution.

“On why is the president being counted upon to lead in resolving challenges to sovereignty, it is because this is what presidents must be relied upon to do. To defend what is ours is also found in our Constitution,” the former DFA secretary said in the two-page letter circulated to the media on Sunday, May 2, 2021.

He noted that during the incumbency of President Benigno Aquino III, the Philippines filed an arbitration case in The Hague, resulting in a July 12, 2016 overwhelming victory.

However, shortly after the successful outcome of the arbitration which included the invalidation of China’s excessive nine-dash line claim, Del Rosario lamented that the newly installed government in Manila at that time opted to “shelve the case for fear of displeasing Beijing”.

Del Rosario also dismissed attempts to depict the Arbitral Tribunal victory as one to be of significance to a “small minority of countries only”.

“For the record, nearly all of the responsible nations have recognized that the Arbitral outcome is now an integral part of international law,” he said, citing the support expressed by the United States, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, European Union, Canada, United Kingdom, and many other countries.

On the Duterte administration’s doubts that the Arbitral ruling can be enforced against China, Del Rosario reiterated his position that there are various ways to enforce the outcome, and one of which is to submit the case before the United Nations General Assembly to compel China to abide by the rule of law.

He likewise took exception to the statement of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go calling him and Justice Carpio “cowards”.

“To the good senator who spoke of this, I must confess that I had previously given him the benefit of the doubt on his ability to serve the country. Now I know,” he said.