MANILA (UPDATE) — President Rodrigo Duterte has said he would be the subject of "comedy" if he turns to the United Nations to counter China's incursions in the West Philippine Sea.
A UN-backed court's ruling in 2016 junked Beijing's claims to almost the entire South China Sea, within which is the Philippines' territorial waters. Duterte last week called the arbitral victory a piece of "paper" that he said could be thrown into the wastebasket.
"Ano pang papel gusto niyo, papuntahin ako doon sa... kailan pa ba naging useful 'yang United Nations?" Duterte said in a speech taped on Thursday and aired Friday.
(What other paper do you want, for me to go to the... when has the United Nations ever been useful.)
"Saan ako magpunta? To what body, the United Nations? Please, spare me the... maging comedy lang ako d’yan," he added.
(Where will I go? To what body, the United Nations? Please, spare me the... I will turn into comedy there.)
Duterte had raised the arbitral victory before the UN in his first speech at the world body's general assembly in September last year.
Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier urged Duterte to rally the support of other nations to press China to follow the ruling.
A government task force this week flagged incursions into the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by 287 maritime militia vessels from China.
Duterte in recent speeches has repeatedly scored Carpio and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, who pursued the arbitration case against China, following their criticism of his China policy.
DEL ROSARIO: DFA DOES NOT HAVE POWER TO WITHDRAW SHIPS
In a statement, Del Rosario said the President should stop blaming him for allegedly withdrawing the ships in the Scarborough Shoal, as he did not have that power when he was foreign affairs secretary.
Only the military has the power to do so, as this is not part of his agency's mandate, he said.
Duterte had repeatedly claimed that the Philippines lost Scarborough Shoal when Del Rosario removed Philippine vessels from the area during a standoff with Chinese ships in 2012.
"We would like to highlight the fact that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs is not part of the chain of command present in the military, the Navy, or the coastguard," according to Del Rosario.
"Under the law, the mandate of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs is in the conduct of diplomacy and foreign relations," the former public official added.
The chief executive should blame China instead for breaching the US-brokered agreement at the time by "not withdrawing" its fleet from the shoal.
"It was China which illegally seized Scarborough Shoal from our country... China occupied Scarborough Shoal and breached the Agreement based on its highly questionable claim that it exclusively owns [the] shoal," he noted.
Earlier in the day, Duterte said two Philippine ships in the resource-rich waterway "will not move an inch backward."
Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said last month China is a permanent member and has veto power at the UN Security Council, which could have enforced the 2016 arbitral ruling.
He said it was also unlikely that the UN General Assembly would order the ruling's enforcement because majority of countries might side with China.
Carpio last year said the Philippines had the backing of the US, UK and Australia, which gave “much, much more than what China has given to other countries.”
"Once we get the support of these other countries, the big powers, I think we will get an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly," he told ANC.
Video courtesy of PTV
— With reports from Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News