Rely on Filipinos, not China, senators tell Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte should depend on the Filipino people, not on China, for his survival in office, several senators said on Thursday.
The senators, belonging to both the majority and the minority blocs, reacted with disapproval after the President said on Tuesday that Chinese President Xi Jinping had given him his personal assurance that Beijing would not allow him to be removed from office.
“The assurances of Xi are very encouraging, ‘We will not allow you to be taken out from your office and we will not allow the Philippines to go to the dogs,’” the President said in a speech aboard a Philippine Navy vessel.
He made the remarks in justifying his decision to set aside a July 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidating China’s claim to nearly all of the South China Sea in a case brought by the Aquino administration.
‘God help the Philippines’
“If he really said that, and in the context that we are made to understand, all I can say is, God help the Philippines,” said Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a member of the majority bloc in the Senate.
“We are a democratic and sovereign country. Nobody, not any foreign country but the Philippines and the Filipinos can determine and decide what is best for us,” Lacson added.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, leader of the opposition Liberal Party, said Mr. Duterte should look to his own countrymen, not to the Chinese, to secure his hold on power.
Pangilinan questioned whether China’s assurance that it had his back had a price.
“Is this the reason why the administration is as meek as a lamb while our sovereignty is being threatened by China in the West Philippine Sea?” Pangilinan said.
“Is this the reason why we are willing to enter into loans with China even if the interest rates are four to five times higher than that of Japan or South Korea?” he asked.
Opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said Mr. Duterte’s claim that Xi had guaranteed his stay in power was a sign of “paranoia” about the state of affairs in the Philippines.
“No one is trying to kick him out. He is doing the destabilizing all by himself,” Trillanes said.
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