By Addison Pascua  

PHOTO: CNN Philippines

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario claimed on Friday that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte will leave a “shameful legacy” for squandering the 2016 arbitral award won by the Philippines in exchange for Chinese loans and investments which have “barely materialized to this day.”

Speaking at the virtual forum “The South China Sea Arbitration As President Aquino’s Greatest Legacy,” Del Rosario said securing the arbitral award during the July 2016 Ruling of The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration has been the centerpiece of the foreign policy of the Aquino Administration.

“Given the 10 months left in the Duterte administration, President Rodrigo Duterte will leave a shameful legacy of squandering the award in a misguided quid pro quo for Chinese loans and investments which have barely materialized to this day,” Del Rosario asserted.

“If securing the Award became the centerpiece of the foreign policy of the Aquino administration, the Award is the hallmark of shame for the Duterte administration given President Duterte’s efforts to undermine it since the start of his term to the prejudice of his countrymen,” the former DFA chief added.

Del Rosario lamented that when the arbitral award was given by the Permanent Court of Arbitration during the start of President Duterte’s term in 2016, “there was already an order from Malacañang to “downplay” the award for fear of displeasing China.”

“We can see, in retrospect, how this event portended a treasonous policy of the Duterte administration of setting aside the Award,” he recalled.

A month after Duterte accused him of treason, Del Rosario also lashed out at his accuser claiming that Duterte is the real traitor for choosing China over Filipinos “because he believes Chinese President Xi Jinping is protecting his presidency in the Philippines.”

“Let us be vigilant against traitors in our midst. We know who you are and whom you have embraced with your undying love to the detriment of our country’s patrimony,” Del Rosario reminded.

The former top Filipino diplomat has likewise urged the public to vote for leaders who will protect the welfare of the future generation.

“In this coming 2022 elections, we must vote for leaders who will put Filipinos first before China, money and power,” said Del Rosario, also the chair of Stratbase.

According to Del Rosario, the Philippines during the Aquino administration pursued a rules-based strategy in the South China Sea dispute to convince China to respect the country’s rights and for China to comply with its obligations under international law.

“International Law, [Aquino] maintained, is the great equalizer among states as it allows small countries to stand on an equal footing with more powerful states. President Aquino believed that those who think ‘might makes right’ have it backwards. It is exactly the opposite, in that right makes might,” he said.

Furthermore, Del Rosario stressed that the arbitral award will continue to be a centerpiece of Philippine foreign and security policy for the next administrations.