De Lima: Duterte’s pro-China policy should be thrown in the trash bin

Published May 7, 2021, 2:56 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Leila De Lima on Friday criticized President Duterte’s attempt to discredit the Philippines’ arbitral win over China on the West Philippine Sea (WPS), saying it is his “fake independent foreign policy” that deserves to be thrown in the trash bin.

De Lima, who was part of the delegation who argued the Philippines’ arbitration case against China over the West Philippine Sea before The Hague during her stint as justice secretary, pointed out that Duterte is practicing the strategy of subservience when it comes to dealing with China.

“We understand that calibration is the other name of diplomacy. But where is calibration in Duterte’s statement that our victory in The Hague is a worthless paper?” De Lima asked.

“What he is doing in our relations with China is not a strategy of deterrence, but a strategy of subservience and servility. Ito ay kataksilan sa Konstitusyon at sa sambayanang Pilipino (This is treason to the Constitution and to the Filipino people),” she stressed.

Duterte, in a recent press briefing, said the ruling affirming the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the WPS is just a piece of paper that he can throw in the waste basket.

In 2013, during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, De Lima and other key Cabinet officials, challenged China’s legal basis for its expansive claim before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, and won the case after the tribunal invalidated Beijing’s assertions.

She said the July 12, 2016 ruling was considered historic and landmark, considering that the Hague-based PCA found no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to a “nine-dash line” in the WPS. But China, against this backdrop, refused to honor the ruling.

In his recent speech, Duterte refused to step up to China and described calls for him to bring current developments in the WPS to the United “a waste of time and at the same time disrupting the good relations of China and the Philippines.”

A matter which, the vocal Duterte critic said, should not even be tolerated.

“Makasaysayan ang naging tagumpay natin sa WPS. Ang bagay sa basurahan ay basura din gaya ng independent foreign policy kuno ni Duterte (Our victory in the WPS is historic. What should belong in the trash bin is another trash like the fake independent foreign policy of Duterte),” she pointed out.

“History bears witness to the fact that he’s merely parroting China’s official position on the WPS ruling,” she said.

“What is important to Duterte is to appease China’s request, in exchange for our territory and the livelihood of our fellowmen,” she lamented. [Hannah L. Torregoza]