By Ben Rosario
While President Rodrigo Duterte won the admiration of many Filipinos for raising to China the Hague ruling that junked the world superpower’s claim over vast territories of the West Philippine sea, his actions failed to impress the opposition in the Lower House.
Three opposition solons and a former congressman slammed the allegedly belated action of Duterte when he brought up with Chinese President Xi Jinping the International Tribunal’s ruling during bilateral talks in China the other day.
In separate press statements, Reps. Manuel Cabochan III (Magdalo); Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Partylist) and Sarah Jane Elago (Kabataan Partylist) said there is little Fiipinos can be proud about in Duterte’s action.
They added that Xi’s reaction to Duterte’s reminding him of the West Philippine sea ruling was expected.
“Of course, Beijing can afford to ignore it as it has been doing since the decision was announced in 2016. Let us give it to President Duterte for at least raising this important matter to Xi,” said Cabochan, a neophyte congressman.
However, Cabochan decried Duterte for adopting a “defeatist attitude” every since he became president and the Philippines won the arbitral ruling.
“The advantage of having international law side on our national interests have been squandered early on.” noted Cabochan.
IN her statement, Brosas lamented that Duterte has again failed to assert the country’s sovereignty and the Constitution when he signed a joint agreement with China to explore and exploit minerals in the exclusive economic zone” of the Philippines.
“The estimated value of the oil and gas resources at stake amount to USD 60 trillion. China will be getting majority of the share while Duterte and his business cronies will be seeing big spikes in wealth,” the lady lawmaker said.
For her part, Elago express alarm over Duterte’s seemingly “beholden” stance towards China and its leader.
“What have we gotten from China in these visits but loans?” asked Elago.
“Each agreement President Duterte signs puts the country deeper into debt. These are loans that we, the youth, will pay for in the future, with money that could be better spent for health, education, and other social services,” said the youth leader.
She warned that Duterte’s alleged “deal-making in China has not yielded results on the West Philippine Sea issue, and may perhaps have weakened the Philippines”
Former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the face-to-face meeting was apparently scripted to allow Duterte to take an assertive stance.
“Akala ni Duterte he has fulfilled his campaign promise by merely raising the tribunal decision. The people demand that he assert our territorial rights, like Vietnam,” said Colmenares.