MANILA - A political science professor from the University of the Philippines on Tuesday said it is wrong to blame former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario for the withdrawal of Philippine ships from Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal to end the 2012 standoff there with China.
“Ang nag-mediate niyan, US. Ang ibig sabihin niyan, we are honorable people because we honored the agreement and China did not. Siguro, kailangang maging mas tuso tayo,” said Dr. Clarita Carlos of the UP Department of Political Science.
(The US mediated. That means, we're honorable people because we honored the agreement and China did not. Maybe we need to be more smart about it.)
Del Rosario said in a previous statement that China’s seizure of the Scarborough Shoal around nine years ago was due to Beijing’s non-compliance with a US-brokered agreement with Manila to jointly pulled out their ships at a certain time.
President Rodrigo Duterte blamed officials from the previous administration for removing Philippine ships from Scarborough Shoal while Chinese vessels remained.
His remarks came as former and current officials, as well as some analysts, challenged him to take a bolder move against Beijing after hundreds of Chinese boats were spotted inside the Philippine exclusive economic zone beginning March this year.
China's sweeping claims over almost the entire South China Sea, of which the West Philippine Sea is a part, was declared to have no legal basis by a UN-backed arbitration court in The Hague in July 2016.
“Siguro may karapatan si Duterte na magsisi kay Del Rosario, pero mali siya,” Carlos said in an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(Maybe Duterte has the right to blame Del Rosario, but he's wrong.)
Carlos also described as “strategic ambiguity” what Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said of Duterte’s “careful, calibrated, and calculated” foreign policy amid Chinese’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea.
“From a certain perspective, tama yung fairly calibrated, calculated and careful... meanwhile, habang hindi mo talagang nakokolekta pwersa mo, ang pwersa mo is a collective force,” said the professor, who had also served as President of the National Defense College of the Philippines.
(From a certain perspective, 'fairly calibrated, calculated and careful' is correct... meanwhile, while you have yet to build your collective force.)
“Magkaroon tayo ng ibang strategy. In the meanwhile na hindi natin alam ang gagawin natin, yang strategic ambiguity muna, vagueness muna at strategic patience,” Carlos said in an interview on TeleRadyo on Tuesday morning.
(Let's adopt a new strategy. But in the meantime that we don't know how to go about this, we can stick with this strategic ambiguity, this vagueness and strategic patience.)
On Monday night, Duterte hurled insults anew at former government officials as he reiterated his allegation that they allowed China to dominate the West Philippine Sea.
Referring to del Rosario, Duterte said, “Itong Albert na ito, ako pa ang sinisisi. Makita kita, suntukin kita eh. Buang ka.”
“Pagdating ko and’yan na iyong barko ng Tsina, atin ang wala,” he said.
(This Albert is blaming me. If I see you, I will punch you. You're crazy. When I assumed power, China's ships were already there, ours were not.)
Duterte went on to say that Del Rosario does not look like a Filipino.
He also commented on the weight of retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, another advocate of the Philippines' sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.
"Retired na, wala na ‘yan. Anong nagawa mo? Anong nagawa ng pagka-Supreme Court mo?" said Duterte.
(He's retired, so he's a nobody. What did you do? What did you accomplish from being in the Supreme Court?)
On Sunday, Malacanang told Duterte’s critics to let him pursue his “careful, calibrated, and calculated” foreign policy.