Duterte told: Be brave against China, too

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 24 2019 04:48 PM

PANGASINAN - Senatorial bets from opposition slate Otso Diretso on Wednesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to also be brave in dealing with China, after the chief executive threatened Canada with war over a garbage shipment.

The opposition bets said Duterte must nudge Beijing about its blocking of Filipino fishermen who wish to access the rich fishing ground of Scarborough Shoal, as well as the presence of illegal Chinese workers in the Philippines. 

Duterte will visit Beijing this week to attend the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

Former Solicitor General Florin “Pilo” Hilbay stressed that if the President is a true friend of China, he can reach a compromise with its government for the benefit of Filipinos.

“Sana ‘yung sinasabing political will ng Pangulo, ‘yung kanyang tapang, itutok niya sa bansang dapat tutukan at ‘yun yung China,” Hilbay said.

(He should show his political will and bravado in dealing with China.)

Hilbay was part of the legal team formed by the previous administration which dragged China to a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal.

The tribunal ruled in favor of Manila, invalidating Beijing's expansive claim to the vital sea lane. China, however, has refused to recognize the ruling.

Duterte has chosen to downplay the ruling in exchange for improved economic ties with China, the world's second largest economy.

Human rights advocate Samira Gutoc echoed Hilbay's comments, saying the President should also treat China the way he treated Canada.

“Canada has been a friend to immigrants. Like Filipinos, garbage is an issue, but territory as well, our territory is more important. He should employ his aggressive language against China,” Gutoc said.

Gutoc, Hilbay, as well as representatives of other Otso Diretso candidates, went around Dagupan City, Lingayen, Binmaley and San Carlos City in Pangasinan to court voters in the third most vote-rich province in the country.

Duterte has been criticized for his supposed meekness to China. He has defended his stance by saying Manila cannot match the military power of its giant neighbor.