Roque to Del Rosario: Don’t dictate on Duterte what to do in West PH Sea row
MANILA, Philippines — Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario is in no position to dictate to President Rodrigo Duterte what to do with the country’s territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque questioned the former diplomat’s “special qualification” to impose on the President, stressing that it was under his leadership in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) when the country lost control of Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal).
“Si Sec. Del Rosario, he’s a Filipino, he’s entitled to speak pero parang hindi po maganda na dinidiktahan niya ang Presidente. Hindi ko po alam kung anong special qualification niya para diktahan niya ang isang Presidente,” Roque said in a televised Palace press briefing.
“Alam ko po na anim na taon siyang Secretary ng Foreign Affairs pero noong mga panahong pong iyon, doon nawala ‘yung Panatag (Shoal) at doon nawala ‘yung physical possession of that island.”
“So I don’t think he has much to show by way of showing his actual accomplishments as DFA Secretary. And all I can say is magisip-isip po muna tayo kung anong qualification natin para diktahan natin ang isang sitting President na hinalal po ng taumbayan,” Roque added.
Roque said this Thursday in response to Del Rosario, who said that the “next step” in the invocation of the Philippines’ arbitral victory against China before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is to put it into reality.
In a strongly-worded debut speech before the UNGA, Duterte described the 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague that struck down China’s expansive nine-dash line claims in the disputed waters as “beyond compromise.”
“The award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon,” Duterte said.
“We firmly reject attempts to undermine it,” he added.
However, Malacañang refused to call Duterte’s remarks on the territorial dispute as a “strong statement,” claiming that it was just a “restatement of an old, existing policy.”
The Philippines elevated its case against China before the PCA in 2013 following a stand-off over the Scarborough Shoal – which Beijing took control.
China has been pushing for its expansive claims in the South China Sea, refusing to recognize the 2016 PCA ruling.
Meanwhile, Duterte has chosen to shelve the ruling in exchange for Chinese economic perks to help fund his administration’s ambitious infrastructure projects even as the Asian powerhouse continues its military activities within the Philippine territory.
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