MANILA, Philippines – After being out of the public eye for nearly 4 months since retiring as Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio Morales made her voice heard again on Saturday, November 24, and it was loud and clear.
Delivering the introductory speech at the Akademiang Filipino’s forum on protecting Philippine sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, Morales said the Philippines “cannot survive treason from within.”
Quoting Marcus Tullius Cicero, Morales said: “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within.”
Morales added, continuing the quote: “An enemy at the gates is less formidable…but the traitor moves among those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.”
Without mentioning specifics in her speech, Morales said “the writings are on the wall.”
“The ensuing period of years is the litmus test of how this nation is going to assert the gains it has painstakingly fought for in The Hague,” she said, referring to the Philippines’ historic victory over China in the West Philippine Sea dispute.
Asked after the forum if she was referring to the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte which has set set aside the Hague ruling to gain loans and grants from the Asian giant, Morales cheekily said: “Don’t intrigue me. As I said, it is self-explanatory.”
Asked what she meant by the statement, Morales said it is “self-explanatory.” Asked again if she was referring to the Duterte administration, she said: “Don’t intrigue me.” pic.twitter.com/JEYtyWSqVR— Lian Buan (@lianbuan) November 24, 2018
Morales made the statement days after the Philippines signed with China a Memorandum of Understanding on oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea.
The deal has been compared with the Philippines’ Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking with China and Vietnam under the Arroyo administration which expired in 2008. At the time, critics called then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s decision to allow the JMSU an “act of treason.”
The forum also featured Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, who once again slammed China for its continued insistence that it had a valid territorial claim over the West Philippine Sea, part of the South China Sea. China is claiming ownership of the entire South China Sea.
“The Philippines has an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of about 376,350 square kilometers in the South China Sea that is free from any Chinese claim. If China is there, it’s there as a squatter,” said Carpio.
The forum was held after the government finally publicized the MOU with China on a possible oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea.
While Carpio said the MOU is “safe” for now, the Philippines should proceed with caution to ensure that it would not cede any part of its territory to China in the final agreement.
Morales, for her part, said, “The people need to assert transparency, demand integrity and exact accountability from the powers-that-be who must adhere to the rule of law, even international law, including the Law of the Sea.” – Rappler.com
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