MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay criticized the Aquino administration for recently sending a huge delegation to The Hague, Netherlands, to defend the Philippines' case against China over the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
"Tatlo lang naman ang mag-a-argue doon. Ang dami-dami nila doon," Binay said in an interview with reporters in Bacolod on Saturday, July 18.
(Only 3 people would present their arguments. So many of them were there.)
Bulletins from the Philippine team showed that at least 7 people presented before the arbitral tribunal at The Hague: Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, chief counsel Paul Reichler, lawyer Lawrence Martin, Professor Philippe Sands, Professor Alan Boyle, and Professor Bernard Oxman.
A photo released by the Philippine team showed at least 18 people in the delegation.
In a speech in Bacolod, as quoted by GMA News, Binay pointed out that government money has been "spent to fund programs of their favorite leaders and friends." These programs included what he called the "junket" at The Hague.
He reportedly said this money should have been used in education.
Philippines' lawyer: 'Giant slayer'
The Palace, however, defended the Philippine team at The Hague, which included representatives from all 3 branches of government.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said it was important "to show the unity of the 3 branches of government" in presenting the Philippines' case.
He also pointed out that Reichler, the Philippines' chief counsel, was hired "on the basis of competence." Known as the "giant slayer of public international law," Reichler once defeated the US in a landmark case that showed big countries cannot simply snub international rulings. (READ: PH lawyer vs China: 'Giant slayer' who defeated US)
Binay, on the other hand, departs from the Aquino administration's policy on the West Philippine Sea.
He is pushing for bilateral talks between Manila and Beijing as he calls for a joint venture between the two countries. (READ: 'Binay: China has money, we need capital')
Binay said in April, "May pera po ang China, kailangan po natin ng kapital." (China has money, we need capital). – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.