Duterte's 'piece of paper' remark is a national tragedy — former DFA chief

Published May 6, 2021, 7:22 PM

by Roy Mabasa

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario on Thursday said it is a “national tragedy” that the President of the Philippines takes the side of China and believes that the landmark ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is just a “piece of paper” that can be thrown away.

Former DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario (Manila Bulletin)

“China, the illegal occupant in the West Philippine Sea, believes that the Arbitral Ruling is a mere scrap of paper. The Philippines is the country which won the Arbitral Ruling against China. It is, therefore, a national tragedy that the President of the Philippines takes the side of China and believes that the Arbitral Ruling is a scrap of paper meant to be thrown in the wastebasket, to the severe prejudice of the Filipino people,” Del Rosario said in a statement.

President Duterte, during his Talk to the People on Wednesday, said,

“Sa usapang bugoy, sabihin ko sa iyo, ibigay mo sa akin, sabihin ko sa iyo, P—– i–, papel lang yan. Itatapon ko yan sa waste basket.” (They filed a case. We won. That paper, in real like, between nations, is nothing. In the language of hoodlums, I will tell you, give it to me and I will tell you, P—– i–, that’s just paper. I will throw that away in the wastebasket).

On the contrary, Del Rosario pointed out that the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, European Union, Indonesia, and other responsible nations believe that the Arbitral Ruling is “valid, binding and should be enforced against China pursuant to international law.”

Del Rosario also defended himself from the President’s accusation that he was the reason why the Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) went to China’s possession during the standoff in April 2012.

“We wish to reiterate that it was China which deceitfully breached the US-brokered agreement for a mutual withdrawal. Until now, China continues to openly violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines by illegally occupying certain features in the West Philippine Sea. Why are Filipinos being blamed for the loss of Scarborough Shoal and not China and its duplicity?” the former foreign affairs chief explained.

He reminded Duterte that it is the President’s sworn duty under the Constitution to protect the West Philippine Sea and enforce the Arbitral Award against China.

“With due respect, this is not a blaming game among Filipinos, but a constitutional mandate to be acted upon against a foreign aggressor for the benefit of our country and the Filipino people,” he said.

On the suggestion of the President that he and former Justice Antonio Carpio should be investigated and be held accountable for the pullout of Philippine ships during the standoff, Del Rosario said he is looking forward to responding to the issue and “appreciate the President’s desire to be informed regarding the United States-brokered agreement on Scarborough Shoal incident.”