Philippines "willing victim" of "grand larcenist, international outlaw" China: ex-DFA chief
The Philippines is a "willing victim and an abettor for embracing China's bullying at least for the past two years since the arbitral tribunal's decision on Manila's case against Beijing in the South China Sea, a former Department of Foreign Affairs chief said on Thursday.
In a forum in Makati City, former DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario called China as the "grandest larcenist" for taking "a significant property of others; "an international outlaw" for allegedly refusing the rule of international law; and a "bully" for allegedly using muscle to deprive others of their rights.
China has remained firm not to honor the award by the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal to the Philippines on July 12, 2016, invalidating China's claim of "indisputable sovereignty" in almost the entire South China Sea through the nine-dash line.
The petition questioning China's claim in the South China Sea was filed during the Aquino administration and Del Rosario was the then DFA secretary.
But when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in June 2016, he decided to put at the back burner the arbitral ruling and to pursue instead a "friendly" stance with China.
Del Rosario lamented that the Philippines should have taken the two years since the ruling came out to develop and obtain the support of many countries whose principles are aligned with the Philippine own and with whom its own voice could be magnified.
"Sadly, however, this was not made to happen," he said, stressing that the Philippines instead became a "willing victim" that acquiesces to the abuses against it; and an "abettor" for defending an "aggressor at every opportunity."
"Where do we go from here? What should we now do as a willing victim and an abettor that has fully embraced our big northern neighbor who is clearly acting as a bully, a grand larcenist, and an international outlaw?," said Del Rosario who led the country in filing the case before the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration.
He called on the Filipinos to voice their sentiments to the government and exercise their right to raise their indignation against China.
He also cited the importance of the "friends in the community of nations" who believe in the rule of law to help the Philippines.
Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, who was also present in the forum, called on the "citizens of the world" to unite to ensure that the rule of law will prevail, particularly insofar as the ruling on the South China Sea is concerned.
He said that if the PCA ruling would not be respected, this could lead to the "collapse" of the law of the sea.
Carpio, who helped in defending the Philippine case before the PCA, urged the Filipinos to make sure that the arbitral award be preserved.
Jay L. Batongbacal, a professor at the University of the Philippines College of Law and expert on the Law of the Sea, said the Duterte administration should now act against China's action in the South China Sea.
He said the Philippine government should demand China stop the destruction by their fishermen in the South China Sea, particularly in Scarborough Shoal, and rehabilitate the area.
He said the government should also lift the moratorium in the exploration of the uncontested areas in the South China Sea so that it could dig oil as the Malampaya gas field would soon be running out of supply.
The Duterte administration should also demand from China its unequivocal commitment that it would not reclaim the Scarborough Shoal, he added.
Vice President Leni Robredo said this is the time for the Philippines "to peacefully protest any effort to limit or control movement" in the South China Sea.
"As neighbors and friends, we must stand in opposition to military build-ups in the West Philippine Sea," she said.
Meanwhile, Malacanang assured that the Duterte administration is not abandoning the PCA ruling.
"It is the second anniversary of our win in the arbitration before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and we assure that public that on the second year of the anniversary, we will continue to assert what is ours while we move on with our bilateral relations with China," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing.
Asked to comment on Del Rosario's statement that the Philippines is a willing victim of China and abettor to Beijing, Roque questioned the authority of the former top diplomat.
"I don’t know what makes him an authority to give that view...It clearly underscores the fact that some individuals including the former Secretary of Foreign Affairs do not fully comprehend the nature of arbitration," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS