Duterte says 'comedy' if he seeks UN help in sea row with China

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

PHOTO: PCOO

President Rodrigo Duterte said he would be the subject of "comedy" if he would ask help from the United Nations (UN) to address China's incursions in the disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). 

"Saan ako magpunta? To what body, the United Nations? Please, spare me the... maging comedy lang ako d’yan," Duterte said in a pre-recorded speech aired on Friday. 

"Ano pang papel gusto niyo, papuntahin ako doon sa... kailan pa ba naging useful 'yang United Nations?" he added. 

The 2016 UN Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling debunked China's claim of sovereignty over the entire WPS by invalidating Beijing’s massive nine-dash line claims over the waterway and upheld the Philippines' legal claims in the contested area. 

Duterte, however, downplayed the Hague-based UN Court decision considering it as merely a "piece of paper" that could be thrown into the trash bin.

"Nag-file sila ng kaso nanalo tayo... Sa totoong buhay, between nation, 'yang papel wala iyan... Actually... bigay mo sakin iyan sabihin ko 'P*t*ng-ina papel lang iyan'. Itatapon ko iyan sa waste basket," he said.

His recent remark on the country's 2016 arbitral tribunal win against China was a sharp contrast to his statement before the 75th UN General Assembly on September 22, 2020.

“The award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish, or abandon,” Duterte said in his pre-recorded speech delivered to the opening of the assembly. 

Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio had earlier urged Duterte to rally the support of other nations to pressure China to follow the Hague ruling.

Carpio last year said the country had gained support from the US, UK and Australia, which gave “much, much more than what China has given to other countries.”

"Once we get the support of these other countries, the big powers, I think we will get an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly," he said in an interview with ANC. 

Duterte, being reluctant, insisted that raising the decision would do nothing and might only lead to military conflict.

He added that the Philippines owes a debt of gratitude or "utang na loob" to China following its donation of 1 million COVID-19 vaccines. 

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea on Wednesday flagged the presence of 287 maritime militia vessels from China in the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). This comes less than two months after the government task force reported incursions of 220 ships at Julian Felipe Reef.  

Reassuring the Filipinos, Duterte said the Philippine ships in the resource-rich waterway in the WPS "will not move an inch backward."


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