Duterte may use SONA 2019 to ‘educate’ Filipinos about West PH Sea fishing rights

Pia Ranada
Duterte may use SONA 2019 to ‘educate’ Filipinos about West PH Sea fishing rights
President Rodrigo Duterte insists allowing Chinese to fish in Philippine waters is constitutional, and tells Filipinos not to believe in 'constitutionalists' who say otherwise

MANILA, Philippines – Is the country in for another extemporaneous State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 22?

Duterte said , on Monday, July 8, that he might use his 4th SONA to “educate” Filipinos about why his recent remarks  on allowing Chinese fishermen to fish in Philippine waters is constitutional.

“‘Yung sabi nila unconstitutional, well you wait. Maybe sa SONA I will educate people na ‘yung ginawa ko, sabi ko you can fish, tama talaga ako. Hindi maging unconstitutional ‘yan,” said Duterte in an interview with reporters in Malacañang.

(What they’re saying is unconstitutional, well you wait. Maybe at the SONA I will educate people that what I did, saying you can fish, I’m right. It’s not unconstitutional.)

Duterte said he had prepared an argument about why allowing China to take marine resources that are supposed to be exclusive for Filipinos is not a violation of the 1987 Constitution.

Alam mo, magpunta ako doon, nag-aaral ako. Hindi ko lang sabihin ngayon kasi mahilig ako ng sige salita lang kayo diyan then I will talk,” he said.

(You know, when I go there, I study. I just won’t say it now because I’m fond of letting people speak and then I will talk.)

“By any stretch of imaginaton, hindi unconstitutional ‘yung ginawa ko (what I did was not unconstitutional). As a matter of fact, it was in keeping with the law,” he said.

‘Don’t believe in constitutionalists’

Duterte, a lawyer, also told Filipinos not to believe in the arguments of experts in constitutional law.

Kaya huwag kayo maniwala niyang mga constitutionalist constitutionalist, mga Carpio diyan, susmaryoyep (Don’t believe in those constitutionalists, like Carpio, my god),” said Duterte.

He belittled Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario, and former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. 

He sarcastically dared the United States to send its 7th Fleet to drive away China from the West Philippine Sea and for Carpio, Del Rosario, and Morales to be in the middle of it all when violence erupts.

“I want the whole fleet of the 7th fleet of the Armed Forces of the United States there. They go in the [South] China Sea, I go in too. I will invite Carpio, Del Rosario, Morales to ride with me then I’ll tell the Americans, ‘Okay, blast everything away,'” said Duterte.

Carpio has been the most prominent voice insisting that allowing Chinese fishermen to fish in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone violates the Constitution. Del Rosario and Morales had filed a case  against Chinese President Xi Jinping for crimes against humanity in the South China Sea before the International Criminal Court. – Rappler.com

For highlights of President Duterte’s 4th SONA, check out our live blog.

For related stories, visit Rappler’s 2019 State of the Nation Address page. 

Rappler takes a deeper look at the first half of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency – its highs and lows, its achievements and shortcomings:
Duterte Year 3: The Halfway Mark 


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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.