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MANILA, Philippines – Opposition Senator Leila de Lima fired at President Rodrigo Duterte for saying the Philippines “will ignore” the 2016 arbitral ruling on the West Philippine Sea in favor of a joint oil and gas exploration with China.
“Duterte will not only leave a generation of orphans as his legacy but also a generation of beggars surviving on crumbs from China’s banquet – a banquet from our own territory,” said De Lima in a letter she dispatched from her detention cell in Camp Crame on Sunday, September 15. De Lima is undergoing trial for multiple drug charges, which she has denied.
The feisty senator also hit Duterte for failing to protect the country’s sovereign rights against China.
“The gall of the President to even think of setting aside our legal victory at The Hague to give way to an exploration deal with a country who, from the start, has never shown regard for our sovereign right as a nation,” said De Lima.
“Inilagay tayo ni Duterte sa alanganin sa pagpayag sa isang bansang umaangkin din sa ating teritoryo na tuklasin ang yaman ng ating karagatan (Duterte has placed us in a precarious situation where we are giving a country that is taking over our territory the chance to exploit our sea),” she added.
In a recent interview with reporters, Duterte said the Philippines and China are “ignoring” the 2016 arbitral ruling on the West Philippine Sea in order to push through with the joint oil and gas exploration there.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo later clarified that what Duterte just meant was that he would “set aside” the topic but “he would not drop the claim.”
Since he assumed office in 2016, Duterte has downplayed the Philippines’ arbitral victory in the Hague in order to get loans and grants from China. (READ: Robredo hits Duterte’s ‘shameful’ sellout to China over oil, gas deal)
On Sunday, De Lima argued the Philippines’ territory would be diminished once the planned joint exploration deal in the West Philippine Sea pushes through. (READ: Locsin says arbitral ruling ‘unnecessary’ in joint exploration with China)
“The moment the Duterte administration enters into a joint venture agreement with China, our rights over our own territory are diminished. Kaya kung ngayon ay 60-40, baka bukas makalawa ay baka 100% na ng ating pag-aari ay nakuha na ng China (If right now it’s 60-40, tomorrow we may wake up to find that China already owns 100% of what is ours),” said De Lima.
“He will never be pro-Filipino, kahit sa usapin ng karapatang pantao sa ating bansa (even on the issue of human rights in the country),” she added. – Rappler.com