De Lima hits gov’t for bowing to China, ‘belittling’ PH scientists on Benham Rise issue
Sen. Leila De Lima on Thursday blasted the current administration for brazenly giving away the country’s sovereignty to China following its decision to allow Chinese experts to conduct maritime research at the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise).
“Ano ba namang klaseng gobyerno ito? Ipinamimigay na nga ang ating mga teritoryo, napakababa pa ng tingin sa mga Pilipino,” De Lima said in a statement.
(What kind of government is this? It is not just giving away our territory, it also thinks so low of Filipinos.)
“Binabalewala ang karapatang mabuhay ng libu-libong maralita nating kababayan, ipinagkakait ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag, niyuyurakan ang Saligang Batas para sa pansariling mga kapritso, at ngayon, talagang lantaran na kung ipamigay ang ating soberanya sa padrino ni Duterte na bansang Tsina.
(They are taking away thousands of poor people’s right to life, suppress freedom of the press, trampling upon the Constitution for their own self-interest, and now, they brazenly give away our sovereignty to President Rodrigo Duterte’s godfather, China.)
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano confirmed reports that the government allowed China to conduct marine research at Benham Rise, the country’s continental shelf off eastern Luzon, “for as long as there is a Filipino on board.”
Cayetano defended the move, saying that the grant of permission did not break any law.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque echoed Cayetano’s statement, adding that Filipinos need China’s help to conduct such study because “no one can do it” as it is “capital intensive.”
“Instead of defending our sovereignty and national dignity, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque time and again has proven that his Boss is owned and controlled by China. Roque insisted that China was right; that we do not have the capacity to explore Benham Rise,” De Lima said.
“Hindi ba nila alam mahigit isang dekada nang nagsasaliksik ang mga Pilipino sa Benham Rise?” she added.
(Don’t they know that Filipinos have been conducting research at Benham Rise?)
“Ginoong Duterte, kung may utang na loob ka sa China, huwag mong ipambayad ang dangal ng lahing Pilipino,” she said.
(Mr. Duterte, if you owe China a deep debt of gratitude, do not use the Filipino’s honor to pay for it.)
Filipino scientists also cried foul over Roque’s statement.
In a Facebook post, University of the Philippines professor and international maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal said: “This government’s denigration of Filipino scientists and Filipinos in general, claiming they cannot explore Benham Rise without China or Chinese money, is a total sham meant to disempower and demean Filipinos and their capacity and capability as a people.”
De Lima said she will file a Senate resolution to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the government’s decision to allow China to explore Benham Rise. /jpv
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