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Duterte tells China: ‘Kindly allow our fishermen to fish in peace’ in West Philippine Sea

By Tanya Lara Published May 03, 2021 11:49 pm

In his late-night May 3 address to the nation, President Rodrigo Duterte blamed the Aquino administration for the mess in the West Philippine Sea.

He reserved his harshest curses for former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, a long-time advocate for Philippine sovereignty in WPS, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, but softened his language when addressing China over the dispute in WPS.

Suntukin kita diyan (I will punch you),” said the President, referring to former Secretary Del Rosario. At one point, Duterte also questioned his nationality.  

On Sunday, May 2, Del Rosario penned a letter addressed to Executive Secretary Salavdor Mendiola, saying, “China has been taking away our land and waters. We would like to ask, Mr. Secretary, why our fellow Filipinos are being chastised for wanting to defend our country, rather than China? Why are we giving more importance to China over that of our people?

Duterte said China’s ships were in WPS even before he assumed office in July 2016. He also called officials of the previous regime “walang bayag,” and virtually washed his hands of China’s mounting aggression in the last five years during his term.

To China, Duterte said: “Kindly allow our fishermen to fish in peace and there is no reason for trouble. If there is one brewing, we can talk immediately to solve the problem.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. was more categorical in wanting China out of Philippine waters. Apart from the DFA filing two diplomatic protests, he used Twitter on May 3 to address the issue.

“China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE FUCK OUT. What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We’re trying. You. You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend; not to father a Chinese province …

“He doesn’t have a uterus. If he tried to give birth to a Chinese province it would be a ball of crap at best and the end of the regime. What is it so hard to understand about Duterte’s UN declaration that the Arbitral Award made all maritime features Philippines; no one else’s?”

Duterte has not always shown support for the decision. In 2016, he called the Arbitral Award judgement  a piece of paper.

A background: On Jan. 22, 2013, the Philippines submitted its dispute with China over Spratly islands to international arbitration under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Philippines argued that it had sovereign rights and jurisdiction over all waters within the nine-dash line.

On July 12, 2016, the Arbitral Tribunal in the South China Sea Arbitration (The Republic of the Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China) issued a unanimous decision favoring the Philippines.

China rejected the ruling.

President Duterte—only four months into his term—said his government would set aside the ruling. “In the play of politics, now, I will set aside the arbitral ruling. I will not impose anything on China,” he said when asked about China’s construction of anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it had built in the South China Sea.