By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo called out Ilocos Norte Governor and senatorial candidate Imee Marcos for blaming the Philippines for its maritime dispute with China.
Robredo reacted to the television interview of Marcos, who claimed Manila started the fight for its arbitration case against China over the South China Sea.
The previous Aquino administration had brought China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague over the dispute. The Philippines won the arbitral tribunal ruling in July 2016.
“Tayo nag-umpisa ng gulo eh. Bakit naman kasi natin hinabla sa world court?…We started it. We picked a fight and then ngayon, ‘yun pala hindi natin kaya. Ano bang klase ‘yun? Talagang takaw gulpi tayo,” Marcos said.
But her remarks apparently did not sit well with Robredo.
The Vice President said Marcos’ comment on the Philippines-China maritime row were both “disappointing and insensitive.”
“Parang sinisisi pa iyong gobyerno na nagreklamo laban sa China… Nakakatakot na ganito iyong magiging senado,” Robredo, Liberal Party chairperson and leader of the opposition, said.
Robredo was also asked about the statement of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. that the West Philippine Sea was “ours” and that he was not afraid of war amid the incursion of China in Philippine waters.
“I hope it would be sustained. Because the latest statement of the DFA secretary seemed to give us hope that the time has come the government might fight for us,” she said in Filipino.
Locsin responded to a netizen who asked for his agency’s stand on China’s show of power in disputed waters. He tweeted the West Philippine Sea is “ours” and China “took it.”
Locsin further said it was now a matter of “how to take it back” given that the arbitral tribunal has already ruled in favor of the Philippines.
“I personally have no fear of war. One attack on a public vessel triggers World War 3 with the USofA which is impervious to attack from Asia,” he added.
Hundreds of Chinese militia have been reportedly spotted near Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea, prompting strongly worded statements from both Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs.