Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario on Wednesday asked the Filipino people not to “stand idly” as he accused President Duterte of stealing and selling out the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity to China.
Del Rosario’s statement came two days after Duterte, in his State of the Nation (SONA) address on Monday, maintained that asserting the Arbitral ruling that the Philippines won in 2016 would lead to war with China.
“The President, being the chief foreign policy-maker in the country, has sold out our nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity to China. We cannot and must not stand idly by as President Duterte steals our nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity to give to China what rightfully belongs to the Filipino people,” he said.
Despite the Philippine victory in the arbitration case that legally secured the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, Del Rosario said the President has been enabling China to advance its unlawful interests by casually throwing away the historic ruling “setting it aside and labeling it as garbage”.
The former Philippines’ top diplomat said the Filipino people saw a “glimmer of hope” in September last year when Duterte raised the South China Sea issue before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)
“However, it was more lip service than anything as there was absolutely no follow-through in terms of the specific steps that need to be taken to enforce the Award,” he added.
Del Rosario what the President should have done in making a follow-through of his UNGA speech is to “make use of all available instruments of the international body, including the filing of UNGA resolutions which would allow a general debate or the referral to a particular UN Committee for further discussion.
He explained that placing the South China Sea issue under continued deliberation by the international community would be a good avenue in drawing global attention and support for the Award in the West Philippine Sea.
The former DFA chief who once served as Philippine ambassador to the United States, the dire effects of Duterte’s actions, especially among ordinary folks like the fishermen.
“Our fishermen, for example, are basically cut off from their livelihood as Chinese vessels drive them from our seas. Moreover, Chinese trawlers are wantonly getting the fish in the traditional fishing grounds of Filipinos—probably encouraged by President Duterte’s illegal verbal agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping which allows the Chinese to fish in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
With Duterte’s term ending in June next year, Del Rosario said the President has one last chance to bring the Philippine case to the 2021 UNGA scheduled this September “to consolidate the support of the international community for the Award”.
“This is President Duterte’s opportunity to demonstrate that he loves his fellow countrymen more than he loves Xi Jinping,” he said.