MANILA - Sen. Leila de Lima on Wednesday said President Rodrigo Duterte should "start being a Filipino" if China threatens the President over the disputed West Philippine Sea waters.
"Ano daw ang magagawa ni Duterte kung binantaan na siya ng China? Well for one, he can start being a Filipino and side with his own countrymen, instead of raising the bogeyman that war is inevitable for any people who dare to stand up to the bullying of a bigger neighbor," De Lima said in a statement.
"Kung wala kang magagawa sa pagbabanta ng China, bakit ka pa naging Pangulo?" she said.
Duterte, during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, said Chinese President Xi Jinping warned him in a bilateral meeting that confrontation between the two countries in the West Philippine Sea "can mean trouble."
"If the trouble comes out from the mouth of a president of a republic, anong magawa ko? So what did I answer?" Duterte said in his annual address.
De Lima, a staunch critic of Duterte and his administration, said Duterte "cannot defend the nation and its sovereignty by appeasing China and turning the country into its satellite state."
"No amount of extensive narration of how Duterte's dialogue with Xi Jinping convinced him to surrender and sue for peace - even before anything close to a war is declared - can justify his capitulation and treason," the senator said.
Last June, De Lima accused President Rodrigo Duterte and his officials of treason over their remarks on the alleged ramming of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel in Reed Bank (Recto Bank).