Duterte on retaking West Philippine Sea: ‘I never promised the people I would’

Marje Pelayo   •   May 4, 2021   •   129

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte recalled his conversation with President Xi Jinping regarding the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

According to Duterte he asked the communist leader to just let Filipinos fish in the West Philippine Sea.

“I told China, it’s yours according to you, I’ve heard several times. But you also have heard of the fact that people are hungry. Ang Pilipino ay gutom (Filipinos are hungry) and you are not oblivious to that fact. So kindly just allow our fishermen to fish in peace,” he said.

The President said he is ready to talk with China should conflict arise over the disputed territory.

“There’s no reason for trouble. If there is one brewing, you call our attention and we can talk immediately to solve the problem,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive said he never made a campaign promise to retake the WPS.

“I never, never in my campaign as president, promised the people that I would retake the West Philippine Sea. I did not promise that I would pressure China,” he said. “I never mentioned about China and the Philippines in my campaign because that was a very serious matter.”

But President Duterte stressed that he is ready to fight for the country’s sovereignty and he will not order a retreat of Philippine vessels patrolling in the area.

Reacting to Duterte’s statement, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reminded the former of  his statement during the presidential campaign about riding on a jetski to Scarborough Shoal and hoisting the Philippine flag there.

He also said Duterte had issued a statement fully supporting the arbitration case against China.

Thus, Carpio said, President Duterte cannot say that he never mentioned the West Philippine Sea issue or he would be admitting that he was fooling millions of Filipinos which, the former justice said, is tantamount to “grand estafa”.

“President Duterte cannot now say that he never discussed or mentioned the West Philippine Sea issue when he was campaigning for President. Otherwise, he would be admitting that he was fooling the Filipino people big time. There is a term for that–grand estafa or grand larceny. Making a false promise to get 16 million votes,” Carpio said.

For Senator Panfilo Lacson, it is necessary to revisit the Philippines’ diplomatic relations with China.

“Maybe a review of the country’s diplomatic relations is timely and called for. All the diplomatic protests that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs filed have been ignored as if nothing was filed at all. The continued incursions and bullying finally got his goat,” he said. MNP (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

Duterte: I asked Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping for help on COVID-19 vaccines but no talks on WPS

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday disclosed that he asked help from his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines but insisted that they did not discuss issues on the West Philippine Sea.

During his Talk to the People public address on Monday night, Duterte recalled how he called Xi when the Philippines had yet to get any supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Let me just also say na itong history na… for public consumption na ito. Tumawag ako kay President Xi Jinping, sinabi ko kasi noong kasagsagan ng walang dumating talaga, walang makapkap si Secretary (Carlito) Galvez (Jr.), tumawag ako, sabi ko, ‘Mr. President (Xi), I would like to ask for your help until now Philippines is at a loss on how to get vaccines,’” he said.

“Sabi niya, ‘it’s okay we will help you.’ Ganoon lang. Hindi naman sinabi na kalimutan mo yung Scarborough Shoal, bigyan kita… Sinabi niya lang as simple as that,” he added.

The Philippines first received 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines that were donated by the Chinese government on February 28. The national government used this supply to roll out its vaccination program on March 1.

In total, the Philippines has received 1 million donated Sinovac vaccine doses from China, including the 400,000 doses that were delivered in March.

Duterte stood by his earlier statement that the Philippines owes a debt of gratitude to China for all its help but emphasized that there would be no compromise on the West Philippine Sea issue.

“It’s never, never wrong to say that I owe you a debt of gratitude. Totoo eh, binigyan tayo, tinanggap natin, ginamit natin,” he said.

“But it does not mean na tanggapin ko ang bakuna tapos sabihin ko kalimutan ko na yung claim diyan sa West Philippine sea, okay na yun dahil sa bakuna… It was never like that, the world does not operate like that,” he added.

He said there would be no compromise on the issue and that China knows it.

“Maski bahain tayo dito ng vaccine, gagamitin ko pa rin pero sabihin ko ‘hindi ito kabayaran’. Iba ito. This is a Philippine national interest, this is not a health issue that nagpasalamat ako,” he said.

Correction:
An earlier version of this article misstated that “they did discuss issues.” 

Why did Duterte tap out of challenge to debate with Carpio?

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he is not afraid of facing retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio in a debate on issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte last week dared Carpio to square off on the loss of a Philippine territory during the Aquino administration, but later tapped out and instead delegated the task to his spokesperson, lawyer Harry Roque.

“What was in my mind when I challenged Carpio into a debate? Ang problema lang kasi dito nakalimutan ko na si Carpio hindi ang presidente – ako,” Duterte said in his weekly Talk to the People on Monday night.

Duterte said he had to back out of the challenge because anything he might say there could be construed as a “policy statement.”

“I might bind future actions of government pagdating dito sa West Philippine Sea,” he said.

“Pero dodoon ako sa kahon, it’s not because I am afraid of debates,” he added, saying that he had faced many debates with political rivals for the presidency in 2016.

“Hindi ako takot sa’yo, ang problema, hindi ko nga alam na hindi ka president,” he further said, addressing Carpio.

Duterte has blamed the previous administration over the loss of the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea following a standoff in 2012.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said that China “deceitfully breached” its agreement with the Philippines to withdraw the ships of both sides to end the standoff.

The Philippines then pursued an arbitral case against China in 2014. The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2016 in favor of the Philippines and nullified China’s vast claims in the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte said he tried pursuing the arbitral ruling but nothing happened.

China has been ignoring the diplomatic protest that the Philippine government has repeatedly filed over the incursion of Chinese vessels in the contested waters.

Carpio reacts to Duterte backing out from debate on West PH issue

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — After President Rodrigo Duterte backed out from the debate on the West Philippine Sea issue, Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said it would be “pointless to debate about Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef.”

Duterte has designated Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. to face Caprio in the debate. During a press conference on Friday (Mary 7), Roque has laid out topics to be discussed during the debate after announcing the President will no longer participate in the challenge.

“I accepted the President’s challenge without any conditions. Now the President has backed out of his personal challenge to me without giving a definite reason. Instead, he has designated his spokesperson Harry Roque to debate with me on the issue of what administration lost Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef to China,” Carpio said in a statement.

Carpio said there is no factual dispute that China seized Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines during the Aquino Administration. There is also no factual dispute that China seized Mischief Reef from the Philippines during the Ramos Administration.

“Hence, it is pointless to debate about Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef. I will not engage in a useless exercise that will only detract the public’s interest on the vital outstanding issues on the West Philippines Sea, like the President’s continuing false claim that ‘China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea,’” he said.

“I am ready to debate with the President or with anyone he may designate on the factual accuracy and adverse legal implications to the Philippines of the President’s repeated claim that ‘China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea,’” he added. AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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