This time, Duterte finds Bedan group supporting his China stance | Inquirer News
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This time, Duterte finds Bedan group supporting his China stance

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:32 AM May 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Beset by criticism over his soft approach to China’s intrusions in the West Philippine Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte has found a defender in his fellow graduates of the San Beda College of Law.

The alumni association of the law school from where Mr. Duterte graduated in 1972 issued a statement on Wednesday calling on the public to back him and his stance vis-a-vis China.

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“We have to submit to the judgment of our President who is not only our highest elected official but also the chief architect of our country’s foreign policy,” the association’s board of trustees, which includes Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and other known administration allies, said in its “manifesto of support.”

The board added: “We call on every peace-loving Filipino to unite behind President Duterte and respect his position that makes him ‘the sole organ and authority in foreign relations.’”

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Three days earlier, another group of San Beda graduates issued a “fraternal statement of concern” urging the President to retract his “defeatist statements” on China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

Better, broader grasp

According to Duterte’s fellow law alumni, he has “a better and broader grasp” of the Philippines’ foreign affairs because he enjoys exclusive access to certain information not readily available to ordinary Filipinos.

They said his approach to the issue concerning the West Philippine Sea is “predicated on wisdom and is in accord with the thinking of experts in external relations.”

“The call of the hour is for leadership and political will to address what ails our country, and to dare and do, with a sense of urgency and firmness, what is good for the country and our sovereign people,” they said. Besides Medialdea, among the other signatories to the statement are former Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima, Ombudsman Samuel Martires, and Duterte’s former lawyer, Edna Batacan.

Avelino V. Cruz, a founding partner of the influential Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz law office, and Alfredo C. Lim, president and chief operating officer of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., also signed the statement along with 11 other members of the law school’s board of trustees.

2016 arbitral award

On Sunday, more than 100 graduates of San Beda appealed to the President to retract his statement trashing the 2016 arbitral award that recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea and invalidated China’s sweeping ownership claim on the South China Sea.

They also urged him to withdraw his statement that China is “in possession” of the West Philippine Sea.

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Their initiative is similar to an online petition started on May 14 by Antonio Carpio, the retired Supreme Court senior associate justice who had locked horns with Mr. Duterte over his appeasement policy toward China.

The San Beda graduates also said the President should “categorically, demonstrably and publicly uphold” the 1987 Constitution that mandates the government to “protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”

“[W]hen a part of our country’s territory is taken against our will by… China and our countrymen, particularly the fishermen, are threatened with force from exclusively enjoying our nation’s marine resources, the President is solemnly bound to uphold, defend and protect his countrymen and the integrity of our national territory,” the San Beda graduates said.

They agreed with Carpio that Duterte should retract all these remarks made contrary to the interests of the Philippines.

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TAGS: COVID-19 pandemic, maritime dispute, Rodrigo Duterte, San Beda College of Law
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