De Lima slams Duterte for touting ‘deep and abiding friendship’ between PH and China amid WPS issue

De Lima slams Duterte for touting ‘deep and abiding friendship’ between PH and China amid WPS issue

Illustration courtesy by former SC Associate Justice Antonio Carpio

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has chided President Duterte for
recently celebrating what he deemed as “deep and abiding friendship
between the Filipino and Chinese peoples” amid Beijing’s unrelenting
incursions in the West Philippines Sea (WPS).

De Lima said that China is clearly taking advantage and bullying the
Philippines as the former relentlessly refuses to recognize our
sovereign rights in WPS and takes away the livelihood of Filipino
people.

“Duterte should stop dragging the entire country with this so-called
‘deep and abiding friendship’ with China. Ang pagiging tuta niya sa
China ay hindi katumbas ng malalim at mabuting pagkakaibigan,” she
said.

“Paano maituturing na kaibigan ang bansang patuloy na sumasakop sa
ating teritoryo, ninanakawan ng kabuhayan at ginigipit ang ating
mangingisda, at paulit-ulit na binabantaan ang mga kapwa natin
Pilipino?” she added.

In a recent forum celebrating the 46th anniversary of
Philippines-China diplomatic relations, Duterte commended the “deep
and abiding friendship between the Filipino and Chinese peoples.”

“It is a bond that predates, by centuries, the formal establishment of
diplomatic relations 46 years ago,” Duterte said in a taped message
before the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and
Industry, Inc. that led a celebration of the event.

The President was apparently echoing words used in a letter to him
from his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping who marked the same
anniversary by saying he was ready to work with Duterte “to achieve
greater win-win results and mutual benefits.”

“It is not surprising that Duterte merely parroted President Xi
Jinping’s words in his recent letter to him because he has, for years,
kowtowed to China’s position on the WPS ruling. Everyone knows that
Duterte cares more about keeping his unusual friendship with China
than protecting our national sovereignty and territorial integrity,”
De Lima said.

“Baka win-win para sa China at kay Duterte. Mahirap na talagang
magising sa katotohanan ang himbing na himbing sa kulambo ng kanyang
mga kasinungalingan,” she added.

De Lima, who was part of the Philippine delegation who argued the
country’s arbitration case against China over the WPS before The Hague
during her stint as Justice Secretary, maintained that what Duterte is
doing in the Philippines’ relation with China is “a strategy of
subservience and servility which betrays the Constitution and the
Filipino people.”

This April, De Lima filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 694 urging the
government’s Executive branch to exert all legal and diplomatic
actions on the Chinese government in asserting Philippine sovereign
rights in the WPS.

De Lima is also among the 11 Senators who recently filed SR No. 708
urging the upper chamber to “condemn in the strongest possible terms”
the illegal activities of China in the disputed waters. (AI/MTVN)

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