PH could be ‘another one of China’s satellites’ under Duterte, De Lima warns


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has cautioned Filipinos that Philippines would be “another one of China’s satellites” if Duterte and the military will continue refusing to stand against unrelenting Chinese incursion in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

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, is dismayed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continues to support Duterte’s policy of groveling before China.

“While everyone in the world, including China’s own generals, are warning Xi Jinping that he is overstretching in confronting the US and the Philippines in the WPS, Taiwan in the Straits, and Japan in the East China Sea, all at the same time and without any ally or friend whatsoever (except Duterte), the AFP still thinks it is worth it to continue to support Duterte’s policy of groveling before China,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1057.

“For some reason, the AFP has completely accepted the story being sold by local pro-China opportunists that the future of the country and the region lies with China as the sun supposedly sets on the American empire in the Pacific,” she added.

Regardless of the accuracy of said story, De Lima maintained that the fact cannot be changed that China remains alone in the world, as every western ally, from India to Europe and Australia, Japan and South Korea are sending ships to the South China Sea to send a message to China.

“And that message is simply this: they will not allow China to invade Taiwan or take control of the South China Sea. That simply will never happen,” said De Lima.

It can be noted that while his defense and foreign secretaries openly condemned the incursions by Chinese vessels into the WPS, Duterte remained mum about the issue, with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reasoning out that the President preferred to pursue his “diplomatic initiatives” in private.

According to the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), around 240 Chinese militia vessels — not mere fishing vessels as claimed by Chinese authorities — have remained on the waters off Kalayaan town in Palawan well within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines as of April 13.

Reportedly, the first 220 Chinese vessels were first spotted at the Juan Felipe Reef, approximately 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan, and well within the Philippines’ EEZ and continental shelf last March 7, before the vessels have dispersed in the wider area.

Moreover, De Lima lamented how PMAers in the AFP seem to have lost all lessons on strategic thinking, and are now bitterly confined to a parochial world-view limited by the dictates of Duterte.

“Hopefully, with the end of Duterte next year, the AFP can immediately regain its shaky loyalty to the Republic, and that the damage Duterte has wreaked on the institution has not yet become irreversible,” she said.

“That might be wishful thinking, but we have no option but to rehabilitate this present general staff of the AFP because our country has only one AFP who will defend us against China. Either that, or we start accepting our fate in this region as just another one of China’s satellites after Laos and Cambodia,” she added.

In her Dispatch from Crame No. 1055, De Lima said China has taken advantage of the country’s weakness amid the COVID-19 crisis and Duterte’s lack of concern on issues involving WPS.

Sa tingin ba ni Duterte, magkukusang umalis ang China ngayong nakita na nila na hindi siya iimik kahit ano ang gawin nila sa ating teritoryo? Ilang taon nang binobomba ng tubig, ninanakawan ng kabuhayan at ginigipit ang ating mga mangingisda, ilang beses nang binantaan at ginipit ang mga kapwa natin Pilipino sa sarili nating teritoryo, tuloy pa rin ang pagyuko at pagluhod niya sa China?” she asked.

If Duterte and his sycophants will continue to sleep on their job and their non-sense photo-ops just to prove that Duterte can still breathe or jog after two weeks of absence, we cannot and we will never recover. This has to end,” she added. 

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