Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has questioned the Duterte administration’s planned joint oil and gas exploration deal with China that sets aside the country’s arbitral victory on the South China Sea (SCS), locally referred to as West Philippine Sea (WPS).
De Lima pointed out that striking such deal with China would not only leave a generation of orphans as part of Mr. Duterte’s legacy but also a generation of beggars surviving on crumbs from China’s banquet coming no less from the Philippine territory.
“The gall of the President to even think of setting aside our legal victory at The Hague to give way to an exploration deal with a country who, from the start, has never shown regard for our sovereign right as a nation,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 600.
“Inilagay tayo ni Duterte sa alanganin sa pagpayag sa isang bansang umaangkin din sa ating teritoryo na tuklasin ang yaman ng ating karagatan,” she added.
Duterte recently said he was amenable to China’s request for the Philippines to ignore its July 2016 legal victory invalidating Beijing’s nine-dash line claim in the SCS, to push through with the joint oil and gas exploration deal in the disputed sea.
Philippines and China reportedly agreed to form working groups to explore commercial oil and gas agreements with 60-40 sharing, supposedly to our country’s favor, following a meeting between Duterte and Chinese leader Xi Jinping last Aug. 29.
The lady Senator from Bicol explained that the Philippines is at a disadvantage when it comes to any deal with China concerning the disputed sea territories because the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over WPS in the first place.
“Malinaw naman na sa relasyong Pilipinas at Tsina, lugi pa rin tayo, anuman ang hatian, kasi hindi naman tayo dapat nakikihati lang dahil atin ang West Philippine Sea,” she said.
“The moment the Duterte administration enters into a joint venture agreement with China, our rights over our own territory are diminished. Kaya kung ngayon ay 60-40, baka bukas makalawa ay baka 100 porsiyento na ng ating pag-aari ay nakuha na ng China,” she added.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, lamented that Mr. Duterte’s oft-repeated independent foreign policy “turned out to be not so independent after all” as he consistently kowtows to China.
“With all his promise to pursue an independent foreign policy at the beginning of his term, even declared with much bravado against US intervention, bahag ang buntot niya pagdating sa China,” she said.
“In fact, he would only invoke our sovereignty in the face of international indignation against his regime’s abuses. We clearly know where Duterte’s allegiance lies. He will never be pro-Filipino, kahit sa usapin ng karapatang pantao sa ating bansa,” she added.
The former justice secretary argued that any economic activity in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the WPS should be in accordance with the 1987 Constitution and should uphold the Philippines’ sovereign right.
In a landmark ruling on July 12, 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration found no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to a “nine-dash line” in the SCS but China has repeatedly refused to honor the ruling.