Del Rosario slams Panelo for 'mindless' surrender to China
MANILA, Philippines – Former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario slammed Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Tuesday, April 16, for his "mindless" statement that surrenders the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to China "without lifting a finger."
Del Rosario scored Panelo for declaring in a statement on Sunday, April 14: "In the first place, this administration never shelved the arbitral ruling. It only remains unenforceable because no foreign force seems persuaded to help us enforce it."
In his own statement on Tuesday, Del Rosario said, "The aforementioned as expressed by the presidential spokesperson is absolutely mindless."
"It is mindless as our presidential spokesperson appears to be in surrender without lifting a finger to peacefully defend what is ours," he added.
Del Rosario also quoted previous statements of President Rodrigo Duterte indicating that the government was shelving the ruling. He included at least 6 quotes from Duterte and other officials from August 2016 to May 2018.
Del Rosario for instance quoted Duterte as saying on December 17, 2016, "In the play of politics now, I will set aside the arbitral ruling."
"The presidential spokesperson has declared that the arbitral ruling was never shelved. Our records would indicate otherwise," said Del Rosario.
The former top diplomat made this call after recent reports said hundreds of Chinese militia have circled Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea.
Panelo blasting Del Rosario
Panelo responded on Sunday by saying that Del Rosario was "responsible for the loss of the country's possession of Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) during his stint as foreign affairs secretary." Panelo blasted Del Rosario for "naively causing the withdrawal of our armed ship in the area of conflict."
On Tuesday, Del Rosario explained that in 2012, "we were approached by the US, an honest broker for both China and the Philippines, to agree to a simultaneous withdrawal of ships from the shoal." At that time, he said, "China had over 30 ships while the Philippines had a total of one ship."
"We ultimately agreed to the US proposal. At the appointed time, we withdrew, whereas China – acting with duplicity – did not. When confronted with the non-withdrawal of their ships, Beijing's response was a denial of the existence of such an agreement," Del Rosario said. (READ: TIMELINE: The Philippines-China maritime dispute)
Del Rosario ended his statement by dispelling perceptions that China will wage war against the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea.
He quoted Professor Amitav Acharya of the American University who said that "war is not even a good option for China." This is because "its economy is heavily reliant on global trade."
"The thought that war is the only alternative to setting aside the arbitral decision cannot possibly be serious in this modern world," Del Rosario said.
The former top diplomat added, "Is the presidential spokesperson credibly asserting our rightful position against China? If he is not doing this, what in heaven's name is he doing?" – Rappler.com