After President Duterte revealed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s threat of war over the disputed West Philippines Sea, Senate had urged the Duterte government to file a diplomatic protest against China.
It has been reported that President Duterte had received a firm and yet friendly warning from the Chinese President when the arbitrary ruling was brought up in Beijing on Monday.
The President recalled his encounter with Xi in a speech saying, “We intend to drill oil there. If it’s yours, that’s your view. But my view is, I can drill the oil if there is some inside the bowels of the earth because it is ours.”
“His response to me, ‘We’re friends, we don’t want to quarrel with you. We want to maintain the presence of warm relationships, but if you force the issue, we’ll go to war,” the President added.
In the Senate, Senator Francis Pangilinan had called on Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano to file a diplomatic protest after the threat has been revealed by the President.
Pangilinan also called on the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and Economic Affairs to conduct an inquiry on China’s threat and also on the foreign policy of the Duterte Administration.
“The hearing should tackle not only this issue but also details of the $24-billion loans and investments recently sealed with China, as well as the administration’s decision to reject aid from the European Union,” he said.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio advised on Saturday that the Philippine should take China’s threat to the United Nations. Carpio was part of the legal team that defended the Philippines before the UN Arbitrary Court in The Hague in The Netherlands.
According to Carpio, China has no veto in the UN General Assembly and in fact, the Philippines could also claim damages from China for preventing the country to explore its resources within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as ruled by the UN Arbitrary Tribunal.
Senator Panfilo Lacson supported the call of Carpio saying that while the arbitral ruling may not be enforceable now, it is still in favor of the Philippines and China as a member of the UN should also respect the ruling.
“Following that argument, it may only be a question of time before China will realize that her position in the [West Philippine Sea] is untenable. We, therefore, need to marshal the support of the community of nations to put pressure on China, and hope that compliance is accelerated in our favor,” he said.
The Duterte Administration has been known and had been criticized for its subtle and favorable approach to China. The President himself had said that he would be able to raise the arbitrary ruling in time but would want to focus on strengthening its relations with Beijing first in order to benefit from loans and investments.