Palace tells critics: Let Duterte pursue 'careful, calibrated' foreign policy

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2021 04:46 PM

Composite photo of Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, President Rodrigo Duterte, and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News / Presidential Photo

MANILA - Malacañang on Sunday told critics of President Rodrigo Duterte to let him pursue his "careful, calibrated, and calculated foreign policy to its ultimate success" amid China's aggressions in the West Philippine Sea.

Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario have urged Duterte to take a bolder move against Beijing as hundreds of Chinese ships swarmed the West Philippine Sea since March.

Carpio and del Rosario remarks are "not helping our country," Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said.

The former officials should "stop misleading and endangering our people with illegal, impractical, and irresponsible statements," he added.

"They should leave international relations to the one who has the foresight, information, and constitutional mandate to make sound foreign policy decisions," Roque said.

"They should let President Rodrigo Roa Duterte pursue his careful, calibrated, and calculated foreign policy."

Duterte has "never renounced our claims and entitlements" in the West Philippine Sea, said Roque.

"However, he knows that, as a responsible member of the world community, the Philippines must pursue its claims by legal and diplomatic means. We must lay the basis for negotiation, by building a relationship of mutual trust and confidence, and without engaging in name-calling and brinkmanship."

Del Rosario said they expected Duterte to enforce the Arbitral Award on the South China Sea, which invalidated Beijing's sweeping claims over almost the entire waters, after the country won it in July 2016.

Duterte temporarily set aside the ruling upon assuming power in 2016 as he forged friendlier relations with China to get economic aid and investments.

"Today, less than 5 percent of those (pledged) loans and investments (worth up to $24 billion) have materialized as President Duterte is already leaving office next year," Carpio had said.

"Filipinos deserve, and should demand, a President who loves Filipinos first and foremost, and who will uncompromisingly defend Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea," he said.

Roque said the two former officials are demanding that Duterte "adopt hardline all or nothing policies."

"However, history shows that countries who demand all or nothing policies often get nothing at all, or even end up provoking war. This is exactly what the President is avoiding. Because all or nothing policies are not only inconsistent with international law and international reality—they are dangerous and they will not work," said Roque. 

A fishermen's group said Sunday it has filed 3 petitions urging the United Nations to act on Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

The petitions filed Friday called on the UN to declare the China Coast Guard Law null and void, seek demilitarization of the South China Sea, and investigate the effect of Chinese incursion to Filipino fishers' livelihood domestic food security, said Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA).

In June 2015, more than 30 Filipino fishermen also filed a petition with the United Nations over China's alleged "massive and gross human rights violations" by not allowing them to fish at disputed Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Roque, who was then with the Center for International Law, and Atty. Gilbert Andres assisted the group of 38 fishermen from Subic and Masinloc towns in Zambales in the electronic transmission of their complaint to the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and to the U.N. Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food, and on the Negative Impact of the Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights.

China refuses to recognize the 2016 arbitral award and instead ramped up its militarization and island-building activities in the South China Sea.

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