De Lima hits Duterte’s claim vs PH arbitral win over China


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has decried Mr. Duterte’s claim that the country’s arbitral victory against China’s claims in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is merely a piece of paper that he can just throw away in a trash bin.

De Lima, who was part of the Philippine delegation who argued the Philippines’ arbitration case against China over the WPS before The Hague during her stint as Justice Secretary, said 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?” she 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,” she added.

In his pre-recorded briefing that aired last May 5, Duterte 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, under the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III, it may be recalled that the Philippines challenged China’s legal basis for its expansive claim before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, and won the case in a landmark award in 2016 after the tribunal invalidated Beijing’s assertions.

In a landmark ruling on July 12, 2016, the Hague-based PCA found no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to a “nine-dash line” in the WPS but China refused to honor the ruling.

In his recent address, Duterte also claimed that calls for him to bring current developments in the WPS to the United Nations to continue the fight is “a waste of time and at the same time disrupting the good relations of China and the Philippines.”

In contrary, Duterte in his first speech before the United Nations General Assembly in September 2020, said the Philippines rejects any attempt to undermine the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

The lady Senator from Bicol said that the one that belongs to the trash bin is not the country’s arbitral win over China but Duterte’s fake independent foreign policy.

“Makasaysayan ang naging tagumpay natin sa WPS. Ang bagay sa basurahan ay basura din gaya ng independent foreign policy kuno ni Duterte. History bears witness to the fact that he’s merely parroting China’s official position on the WPS ruling,” she said.

Ultimately, De Lima said that “ang mahalaga lang naman kay Duterte ay ang masunod lagi ang kagustuhan ng China, kapalit man nito ay ang pagsuko ng ating teritoryo at pagkamkam sa kabuhayan ng ating mga kababayan.”

This 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.

De Lima is also among 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.

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