De Lima to Duterte: Don't tout PH-China 'friendship' amid WPS incursions

Published June 11, 2021, 7:02 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Leila de Lima on Friday, June 11, said President Duterte should stop boasting about the “deep friendship” of Philippines and China amid the latter’s continued incursions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In a statement, the opposition lawmakers said “China is clearly taking advantage and bullying the Philippines” as it still refuses to recognize the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the WPS.

“Duterte should stop dragging the entire country with this so-called ‘deep and abiding friendship’ with China,” De Lima said.

“Paano maituturing na kaibigan ang bansang patuloy na sumasakop sa ating teritoryo, ninanakawan ng kabuhayan at ginigipit ang ating mangingisda, at paulit-ulit na binabantaan ang mga kapwa natin Pilipino (How can we treat a country that continues to invade our territory, rob our fishermen of livelihood and threaten our fellow Filipinos as a friend)?” she asked.

During a forum celebrating the 46th anniversary of the establishment of Philippines and China’s diplomatic relations on Wednesday, June 9, Duterte recognized the “deep and abiding” friendship of the two countries.

“It is a bond that predates, by centuries, the formal establishment of diplomatic relations 46 years ago,” Duterte said in a taped message during the virtual assembly of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc.

He called for “win-win cooperation” between the two countries to maintain and boost the partnership.

“It is not surprising that Duterte merely parroted President Xi Jinping’s words in his recent letter to him because he has, for years, kowtowed to China’s position on the WPS ruling. Everyone knows that Duterte cares more about keeping his unusual friendship with China than protecting our national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” De Lima said.

“Baka win-win para sa China at kay Duterte (Maybe it’s a win-win only for China and Duterte),” the staunch administration critic added.

Last April, De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 694 urging the government’s Executive branch to exert all legal and diplomatic actions on the Chinese government in asserting Philippine sovereign rights in the WPS.

She is also one of the 11 Senators who recently filed SR No. 708 urging the upper chamber to “condemn in the strongest possible terms” the illegal activities of China in the disputed waters.