President Duterte’s recent statements that China is already in possession of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and that the arbitral award in 2016 was a “mere scrap of paper” showed that he is siding with China, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday, May 9.
Robredo, an opposition leader, lamented that the country’s Chief Executive has seemingly given up the Philippines’ sovereignty with his recent pronouncements.
“Hindi lang siya simpleng hamunan sa debate pero para sa akin, iyong dalawang statements na iyon ay hindi na bansa natin iyong… may pagkiling na talaga sa China (It’s not just a simple challenge to debate but for me, those two statements show that our country is not… he’s siding really with China),” she said during her weekly radio show.
“Iyong dalawang statements na ‘yun seryoso ‘yun. Seryoso siya kasi iyong sovereignty na natin ‘yung parang tinatapon sa labas ng bintana (But those two statements are serious. They are serious because it’s our sovereignty that’s being thrown out of the window),” she added.
In his last Wednesday’s public address, the President referred to the arbitral win as a “scrap of paper,” one that can be thrown in the trash can.
Duterte also castigated former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Foreign Affairs chief Albert del Rosario for letting China take control of the WPS.
He also challenged Carpio to a debate, but later backed down and wanted Presidential spokesman Harry Roque to debate the former justice instead, and added that Del Rosario should be hanged for his 2012 decision.
Robredo noted the President’s statements were “very serious” because the Philippines’ sovereignty “is at stake.”
“Hindi mo pwedeng i-take lightly ‘yung naging desisyon kasi kaya tayo umabot sa ganung punto dahil sa pananakop sa mga pag-aari natin kaya tayo napalaking win yun para sa atin (You cannot take that decision lightly because the reason why we got to that point is because our territories are being occupied, so that’s why it’s a very big win for us,),” she added.
The vice president was referring to the Philippines’ victory before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, the ruling of which came out in July 2016, a month after Duterte took office. The case was filed by the Aquino administration in 2012 after China reneged on the deal to back out from the Panatag Shoal.
The PCA ruled that China’s historic nine-dash-line claim is in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which China is a signatory of.
Robredo said she’s trying not to comment on anything political because the country is still suffering from the second surge of the COVID-19.
“Dapat all hands on deck tayo ngayon dahil malala iyong pinagdadaanan natin (We should be all hands on deck right now because of what we are going through right now) as far as COVID is concerned,” the lady official stressed.
The issue of the country’s sovereignty is beyond politics and politicians, Robredo said.
“Pero iyong issue na sinabi ay bansa natin long after wala na kami, mahalaga pa din iyon para sa Pilipinas (But the issue that our country is facing is that long after we’re no longer here, it’s still important to the Philippines),” she said, citing that it’s sad to see issues like this within the country at a time that Filipinos are dying and suffering.