A former government official should be given the death sentence over his role in the loss of a territory during a standoff with China years ago, President Duterte declared Wednesday night.
In a televised address Wednesday, the President threatened to execute "by hanging" former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, saying the latter must be investigated and held accountable for the pullout of the country's ships from Panatag Shoal in 2012.
The country withdrew its two ships from Panatag shoal in June 2012 reportedly upon the United States intervention in a bid to end the tensions. China however supposedly did not leave the area and effectively took control of the territory then.
"Ikaw Albert, Alberto, bakit mo pinaatras? Kaninong permission ka nanghingi? Ngayon kung wala kang maibigay, p***** i** mo, huwag mong ibigay sa akin ‘yong kasalanan mo. Naghahanap kayo ng libre. Alam ninyo one day, one day you will be tasked to answer for that iyang pag-order ninyo, dapat imbestigahin ka (Albert, why did you order the pullout? Whose permission did you ask? Now if you can't explain, son of a b*tch, don't give me that. It's your fault. You want a free ride. One day, you will be tasked to answer for that order. You should be investigated)," Duterte said.
"I don't know what will be the history of this country because if I were a leader anymore --- I will execute you by hanging," he said.
In calling for an investigation, Duterte wanted to know if the country's ship retreat had the consent of then President Benigno Aquino III.
"So nag-atras tayo. Ang problema sabay para ma-defuse ang tension. Sabay kayong umatras. Tayo umatras (So we withdrew our ships but the problem was both sides were supposed to pull out to defuse the tension. We pulled out) because Albert called the maybe the ships, ordered it to withdraw. The mystery question here is: Was it approved by President Aquino? Siya ‘yong presidente (He was the president then)," he said
"So noong umalis na ‘yong Coast Guard, hindi umalis ang China ship. So ang naiwan doon na barko China na, wala na tayo (So when the coast guard left, the China ship did not leave. The Chinese ship did not leave so we lost it)," he added.
Duterte then mentioned the crime of treason while discussing the presence of foreign vessels in the country's waters.
"Ngayon, nandiyan ka na kasi kaibigan, wala ka man magawa. Ano bang gawin mo? Treason pa naman 'yang makipag --- magkalamano ka (Now, you are there because you are a friend. You can't do anything about it. What would you do? It's treason if you ask for something)," he added.
The President has previously blamed the past administration for the loss of Panatag Shoal years ago. Duterte, in his public address last Monday, even claimed that Chinese President Xi Jinping mentioned former Supreme Court Justice Carpio and Del Rosario for supposedly giving the shoal as a gift to China.
He resented that the former officials, particularly Del Rosario and former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, were now passing the buck and criticizing his supposed soft approach towards China in the West Philippine Sea dispute. The two former officials have called on Duterte to assert the country's ownership of the West Philippine Sea following the latest unlawful stay of Chinese ships in local waters.
Following the loss of Panatag Shoal, the Aquino administration pursued an arbitration case against China's excessive claims in the sea before the Hague tribunal and won in 2016. Beijing however has refused to recognize the tribunal decision.
In his speech Wednesday, Duterte claimed the country's court victory was nothing but a piece of paper that can be thrown in the "wastebasket."
Since he assumed office in 2016, Duterte has chosen to forge closer bilateral relations with Beijing despite the territorial dispute. He refused to wage war over the territory due to concerns it would only lead to the massacre of government troops given China's military might, opting instead to pursue dialogue to manage the dispute.
The Palace recently denied Carpio's allegations that the President committed "estafa" over retaking a territory from China, saying Duterte never fooled the nation since he did not make such a campaign promise. Instead, the Palace highlighted the benefits gained by the country's friendship from China in recent years.