By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Philippine Star

Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday that President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncements “cannot afford to be brave in the mouth against China” is shameful to Filipinos, adding that his “number one obligation” is fighting for the Philippines’ rights.

“You know, you will just sigh when you read the statement of the president and (Defense) Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana,” Robredo said in Filipino during her weekly radio show.

Despite repeated remarks that the country values its sovereignty and independence, Robredo said the country’s leader seems to be afraid of Beijing.

“Kasi parati natin sinasabi na pinahahalagahan natin ‘yung sarili nating kasarinlan. Hindi pwede iyong desisyon natin dahil natatakot tayo sa iba. Hindi naman tayo nakikipag-away eh. Pinaglalaban lang natin ‘yun lg dapat sa atin. Pinaglalaban lang natin iyong karapatan natin. Kapag hindi natin maipaglaban ito dahil takot tayo sa kanila nakakahiya naman sa atin,” Robredo added.

Duterte made the remark during his address in Clark, Pampanga when referring to the New Chinese Coast Guard Law which allows them to fire foreign vessels in claimed waters inside the West Philippine Sea, and the Islands being contested by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Philippines.

The Chief Executive said he is avoiding any confrontation because “that would lead to something which we can hardly afford, at least not at this time.”

However, Robredo lamented being afraid is not an excuse to protect Filipino rights.

“We are not like that. It is sad to read that we are not going to act because we are afraid and China is watching us. What is that? We cannot protect ourselves because we are scared of them?” the Vice President asked.

RELATED ARTICLE: Manila Bulletin