De Lima slams Duterte’s ‘meek-and-humble’ policy towards China

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has bewailed Duterte’s “meek-and-humble” policy towards China on territorial dispute, which equates to the Philippines’ surrender of its sovereign rights on the West Philippine Sea (WPS), also known as South China Sea.

De Lima chided Duterte for implying, through his oft-repeated statements and actions, that Filipinos need to behave well to gain more from the resources that rightfully belong to them, as affirmed by the UN Arbitral Tribunal’s ruling in July 2016.

“I often wonder what’s going on in the madman’s head. President Duterte said that if we will just ‘remain meek and humble,’ China might be merciful and will give us a bigger share from the joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea (WPS),” she said in her latest Dispatch from Crame No. 309.

“According to him, ‘negotiation,’ which judging from his actions, actually means capitulation to China’s agenda, is a better option than going to war and sacrifice the lives of our soldiers. Of course, war is not an option but neither is subservience to a foreign invader,” she added.

Following China’s installation of missiles in the highly-contested Spratly Islands in the WPS, Duterte stated that “when China claimed the entire ocean as theirs, eh wala akong magawa, wala tayong magawa eh ‘yan ang gusto niya.”

Duterte reportedly said that instead of fighting China, the better solution is to forge a “joint exploration” pact to harness the potential of the disputed waterway.

De Lima, who was one of the government officials who represented the country before the UN Arbitral Tribunal, maintained there are other ways to defend the country’s national sovereignty and territory without kowtowing to China.

For instance, De Lima shared that one is through “vigorous assertion of the Tribunal’s ruling and continuous filing of strong diplomatic protests like what Vietnam is doing.”

The Senator from Bicol also suggested that the Philippines can also join international calls to pressure China to stop its military build-up in the WPS and to join efforts in finding a just and peaceful solution to the conflict over this area.

“Hindi po itong ginagawang lantarang pagkakanulo ni Duterte sa interes ng ating bayan. Ilang pirasong pilak po kaya ang kapalit? Kasi po nakapagtataka. Napakatapang ng Pangulo kapag aawayin nya ang mga institusyong pumupuna sa mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao… pero pagdating sa China, daig pa nya ang maamong tupa. Umuurung bigla ang dila niya,” she said.

“Ang kailangan po natin ay matatag na liderato na titindig laban sa mga sumusubok sumakop sa atin. Ang problema, dahan-dahan na nga tayong sinasakop, pero ang stratehiya ng gobyerno ay makipagkaibigan at magpakumbaba upang maawa at palimusan tayo ng Tsina,” she added.

The former justice secretary said turning a blind eye to China’s military expansion in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) over the WPS and entering into a “joint exploration” with them are nothing short of a betrayal of the Filipino people.

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