Next PH leader should not be 'naive' in China relations: expert

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 22 2021 08:44 AM

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MANILA – The next Philippine leader should not be "naive" when it comes to relations with China amid maritime disputes between the two countries, an expert said.

“So yung susunod po na magiging liderato natin ay hindi dapat natin iboboto yung mga taong parang masyadong magiging mapagbigay at masyadong parang naïve kumbaga, yung napakadaling mabilog ang ulo doon sa sinasabi ng Tsina,” said maritime affairs expert Dr. Jay Batongbacal.

“Wala pong nangyaring, halos walang nagkatotoo doon sa mga pangako ng Tsina, halos hindi nagkatotoo yung mga sinabi ng ating administrasyon ngayon na makukuha nila sa China. Wala pong halos nakuha talaga,” he stressed.

Batongbacal—who heads the University of the Philippines Institute of Maritime Affairs and the law of the Sea—said Filipinos should not vote for a leader who will continue the current administration’s policies on China relations.

“Kaya yung susunod po hindi po dapat uli tayo magpabilog ng ulo. Wag naman po tayo boboto ng liderato na itutuloy lang ng basta-basta itong dati nang maling polisiya ng ating administrasyon.”

He added, “Nakikita natin na hindi po talaga naging effective itong nakaraang mga taon na pagiging mapagbigay at mapagkaibigan ng Pilipinas at Tsina pagdating dito sa usapin ng ating mga exclusive economic zone at continental shelf sa ating mga teritoryo d'yan.”

“Malinaw na sa kabila ng ating pagiging makaibigan e wala silang pake. Talagang tinutuloy lang nila kung anong gusto nilang gawin dyan sa lugar natin,” he said.

Batongbacal’s comments come after Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked Philippine supply boats in the Ayungin Shoal last Tuesday. 

Beijing has repeatedly snubbed a United Nations-backed court's 2016 ruling that junked its historical claims to the South China Sea, within which is the smaller West Philippine Sea.

President Rodrigo Duterte has refused to press China to follow the ruling, an arbitral award to a Philippine filing, as he pursued investments and loans from the economic superpower.

China has also donated about 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines in support of country’s fight against the pandemic.

Batongbacal said other countries expressing concern over the latest incident in Ayungin Shoal are helping the Philippines in its effort to assert its claim over maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea.

“Nakakatulong po sa atin yan kasi nakikita agad ng China na hindi niya talaga magagawa itong mga ganitong klaseng kabulastugan nang hindi siya pinapansin ng ibang bansa. Lahat po ng ibang bansa ay kumakampi sa Pilipinas lalo na yung mga bansa na ayaw talaga ng Tsina na may sabihin man lang.”

“Kita natin dito na this time ay talagang agad-agad silang nag-issue ng statement of support para sa atin. Kasi alam din ng ibang mga bansa kung sino’ng tama dito. At yung tama dito ay ang Pilipinas,” he said.

--TeleRadyo, 22 November 2021