Marcos backs Duterte policy on China but confuses ICC with arbitral tribunal

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 24 2021 05:19 PM

Former senator Bongbong Marcos talks to the media on Aug. 6, 2018. George Calvelo, ABS CBN News/File 
Former senator Bongbong Marcos talks to the media on Aug. 6, 2018. George Calvelo, ABS CBN News/File 

MANILA — The son and namesake of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos said on Friday President Rodrigo Duterte was employing "the right way" towards Beijing and its rejection of the ruling that junked its claims to the West Philippine Sea. 

This, as he confused the International Criminal Court and the Permanent Court of Arbitration as he spoke about the 2016 ruling that invalidated China's excessive claims over the South China Sea. 

Duterte has pursued investments and loans from China and refused to press the economic giant to follow the 2016 ruling by a United Nations-backed court that junked its historical claims to the South China Sea, including parts of Philippine waters.

"Iyong policy of engagement na ginagawa ng Duterte government, although it is criticized, this is the right way to go," said Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. 

(The policy of engagement that the Duterte government is doing, although it is criticized, is the right way to go.) 

He said some urge the government to procure more jets and patrol boats in case of war with China. But Marcos said thoughts of going to war with China should be put aside. 

"Ba’t pa natin iisipin ‘yon? Kung mapalaban tayo, tapos ‘yang giyerang ‘yan. Wala pang isang linggo tapos na ‘yan, talo na tayo. ‘Wag na natin isipin ‘yon," Marcos told online Friday News Forum. 

(Why will we think that way? If we get in a fight, that war will be over. In less than a week, we will lose. Let us not think that way.)

He said reaching a "bilateral consensus" with China is the "most important" approach. 

"Ang pagsolusyon sa mga territorial conflict… naaayos lang ‘yan sa ICC. Pero kailangan sumang-ayon ang parehong bansa, magsasabi, ‘Okay sa akin sa Pilipinas, susundan ko ‘yong decision ng ICC,’" he said, appearing to refer to the International Criminal Court. 

It was a different ad hoc UN-backed panel that heard and ruled on the Philippines' filing against China over the West Philippine Sea.

(The resolution of territorial conflicts, these are only fixed at the ICC. But both countries have to agree, say for instance, 'It is okay with me in the Philippines, I will obey the ICC.) 

"Pero ‘yong China, hindi naman signatory sa pagtaguyod ng ICC. Pangalawa, sinabi na nila mula umpisa pa sa hindi namin susundan, hindi namin kinikilala ‘yang mga decision sa ICC," he added. 

(But China is not a signatory in the establishment of the ICC. Second, from thee start, they said we will not follow, we do not recognize those decisions of the ICC.)

It was the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, not the ICC, that invalidated Beijing's claims to the West Philippine Sea. 

Instead, the ICC is the tribunal looking into alleged crimes against humanity in Duterte's drug war that has killed thousands.

"Sa aking palagay, we need to engage China on many different levels, hindi lamang sa diplomatic level, kundi pati sa economic level, sa social, sa cultural, sa sports," Marcos said. "Lahat ng exchange na ‘yan makakatulong." 

(In my opinion, we need to engage China on many different levels, not just on the diplomatic level, but also at the economic level, social, cultural, and sports. All those exchanges can help.) 

Experts have argued that bilateral talks will not boost Philippine position on the sea row given that China is a much larger country.

Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio instead urged Duterte to rally the support of other nations to press China to follow the ruling. 

But Duterte said he would be the subject of "comedy" if he turned to the United Nations to counter China's incursions in Philippine waters. 

Earlier this week, he told the UN, "No amount of willful disregard by any country, however big and powerful, can diminish the arbitral award’s importance." 

In May, Duterte said the arbitral ruling was a piece of "paper" that could be thrown into the wastebasket.

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