West PH sea expert calls Duterte admin ‘naïve’

By , on February 9, 2018

(Photo by Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative)
Gregory Poling, Asia Maritime Transparency (AMTI) Director (Photo by Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative)

An international expert on the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea branded the Duterte administration as ‘naïve’ when it came to its tactics for the disputed area with China.

In a February 2 interview with Rappler, Gregory Poling, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) Director called the government “well-intentioned but naïve,” adding that “the facts on the ground don’t support the notion that China’s acting in good faith.”

Poling was referring to how the Palace has been handling China’s militarization, in which Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. has reiterated in several statements that the Philippine government is relying on good faith.

Apart from this, he also countered defenses that Duterte was only being ‘practical’ in his administration’s stance.

“I don’t think that’s practicality. I think that’s defeatist,” Poling told Rappler.

“If a bully keeps punching you over and over and over, it is naïve to think he’s all of a sudden going to stop and behave nicely,” he added, this time referring to a more recent statement of Roque saying that the Philippines will thank China in the future when they leave.

(Read: PH to thank China for man-made islands when they ‘leave’ – Roque)

“Clearly, eventually, those artificial islands will be ours if we can ask China to leave the islands,” Roque said in an interview on February 7, posted on his Facebook page.

Speaking about legality, Roque said, “There will come a time when China’s might had ceased, when we will have to thank them for the islands because it is only the Philippines the can legally build on those artificial islands.”

An AMTI report also negated one of Roque’s statement in regards to China’s militarization.

(Read: Report negates Palace statement on China militarization)

“As I said this militarization, if you can call it militarization, did not happen during the Duterte administration alone. It’s been long militarized and the question is, ‘what can we do?’ What did the past administration do and what can we do?” Roque said in a recent press briefing.

Contrary to his statement, AMTI’s report in December 2017 states the developments started in early 2017.

“These facilities account for about 72 acres, or 290,000 square meters, of new real estate at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs in the Spratlys, and North, Tree, and Triton Islands in the Paracels,” it read.

The report further read that the Fiery Cross Reef was the most constructed, covering 27 acres or about 110,000 square meters.