MANILA — The Filipino people must "make Duterte pay" for "betraying" the nation after the Philippines' legal victory against China's expansive claim in the resource-rich South China Sea 5 years ago, communist rebels said Monday.
In a statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People's Army (CPP-NPA) accused Duterte of "betraying the country’s interest and throwing the International Arbitration Tribunal's decision in the wastebasket."
"He kowtowed to China and its refusal to recognize the decision. He is a coward who does not know how to defend the country’s sovereignty and national dignity," said Marco Valbuena, CPP's information officer.
On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague issued a “unanimous award” to the Philippines, which had sought clarity on its rights to exploit its exclusive economic zone, portions of which are claimed by China under their so-called "9-dash line."
Duterte later called the arbitral award as a mere "piece of paper" that he will throw in the wastebasket.
In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the Duterte administration "gravely squandered" the arbitral victory with its "vassal-like pivot" to China since 2016.
"Our lost in terms of of marine and other resources may possibly be calculated in terms of pesos but the long-term damage in terms of our sovereignty is clearly incalculable," he said.
Zarate cited a study that pegged at "P33.1 billion per year" the value of China's environmental damage to the West Philippine Sea.
"Agham, for example, said that Chinese activities in the disputed seascapes in the West Philippine Sea resulted in at least 16,000 hectares of destroyed reefs as of 2017. The damage is estimated to reach up to P 33.1 billion per year if the encroachment continues," the Makabayan bloc solon said.
Meanwhile, Magdalo party-list Rep. Manuel Cabochan III lamented the "lack of recognition" of the Duterte administration of the historic arbitral victory.
"There has been a lack of recognition, especially from the President, on the merits and power of the Philippines’ win in the Hague on our maritime claims. This attitude of the administration has squandered many opportunities to strengthen our claims. Since 2016, China has been more aggressive knowing that the President would not even buck," Cabochan said.
In a statement, opposition coalition 1Sambayan said the Filipino people should seek a next leader who will assert the ruling and "fight for what is ours."
"[I]t is not too late. We hope to change that by finding leaders who will not betray our nation nor surrender our sovereignty and sovereign rights in the WPS, who will fight for what is ours, and who will continue the gains we won in 2016," 1Sambayan said.
While she did not mention Duterte, detained Sen. Leila de Lima alluded to a leader who allegedly "cowered" and "sold" the nation to China as she praised the previous administration that pursued the legal challenge in the international tribunal.
"[G]inugunita natin ang tagumpay ng Pilipinas... Hindi ito kinikilala ng mga pumapabor sa Tsina, na sa sobrang laki ng utang ay naaatim na ibenta ang ating mga isla... Ang sigaw nga natin: Sa atin ang Pinas, sa inyo na si Duterte," De Lima said.
In response to criticisms, Malacañang on Friday said the Duterte administration has "done all that we could" in the maritime row against China.
"We have done all that we could, given the absence po of an enforcement mechanism under international law," Palace spokesman Harry Roque said.
China continues to ignore the arbitration court's ruling and has ramped up its militarization in the disputed sea.