Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario on Sunday listed down a menu of available diplomatic options for the Philippines should the unlawful presence of a large number of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea would continue.
In a statement, Del Rosario said the Philippines must anticipate that the constant presence of the mammoth number of Chinese ships is part of China’s “expansionist” policy.
The former top diplomat is confident that incumbent Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. must have already evaluated the following available options:
- A prepared strategic plan internationalizing the WPS issues;
- To work closely with like-minded nations;
- A formulated menu of things to do and how to calibrate them. One possible action to calibrate subsequent actions is to inform formally the United Nations through the Secretary-General;
- Converted forms of the country’s diplomatic notes into demarches that are “pointed, direct and purposive”;
- A plan for bringing the Philippines case to the UN General Assembly in September to seek the support of responsible nations to compel China to abide by the Arbitral Tribunal Outcome;
- Recall of Philippines Ambassador to Beijing if further action is desired;
- Consider instructing our service posts to visit their host governments to explain what is happening with China, and
- Declaring specific Chinese official(s) as persona non grata (such as intelligence personnel or the spokesperson).
Last Friday, Del Rosario dismissed the allegations of the Duterte administration holding him accountable for the 2012 Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal standoff when the Philippine Navy ship withdrew leaving the Chinese in control of the shoal.
The former DFA secretary, who was one of the architects of the Philippine arbitration case against China, said a foreign affairs secretary’s mandate is limited to the conduct of diplomacy and foreign relations and is not even part of the chain of command of the uniformed service.
In July 2016, the Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippine petition invalidating China’s expansive nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.