President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy towards China is “the opposite of appeasement,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary said on Tuesday.
This, after a former Supreme Court justice warned that Beijing can soon put up air and naval bases in contested waters.
Manila fires off a diplomatic note for “every transgression and incursion made by the Chinese or even just a suspicion,” said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.
“You’re looking at the opposite of appeasement right now,” Locsin said during an interview on ANC.
“The President brings this up himself with President Xi. Sometimes, it’s not so well-received. There was one time when he brought it up that I said, sir, perhaps you shouldn’t bring it up at this moment. He did. The reception was very cold but he does bring it up,” he said.
While Chinese officials “don’t always answer it on point”, a diplomatic protest asserts “what we won in the Hague tribunal,” Locsin said, referring to a United Nation-backed court’s 2016 ruling that junked Beijing’s sweeping claims to the South China Sea.
China has refused to recognize the ruling of the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration.
The Asian giant will “very soon” put up air and naval bases on Scarborough Shoal, in the next step to its air defense identification zone, retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said was quoted by CNN Philippines.
“The strategy of Philippines under President Duterte is also clear. The Philippines will never offend China. The Philippines will always appease China,” he said in the report.
“We have set aside the arbitral ruling but the expected amount of loans have not materialized. Our strategy to defend the West Philippine Sea is in total disarray,” he said.
Carpio is “deliberately misinformed,” according to Locsin.
Meanwhile, the Philippines will again bring to China’s attention the payment of damages to the crew of a Philippine boat that a Chinese vessel sunk last year in waters where Manila has exclusive rights over resources.
The suspected Chinese militia vessel left 22 Filipino fishermen of F/B GEM-VER adrift for hours on June 9, 2019 after the sinking of their boat near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea.
“China has responded. They have said that it is the fault of the Chinese vessel and the question is the damages. And now that you mentioned it, okay, I’ll bring it up again,” Locsin told ANC.
Department of Justice (DOJ) will determine the damages, given that the boat belongs to a private company, he said.
“The question is, are you gonna to give it to the company or are you gonna give it to the fishermen,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll (DOJ) come up with it very soon.”
A private Chinese association earlier gave a boat to the Filipino crewmen, said Locsin.
“But that is not the compensation required… It should come from the vessel owner, not somebody else’s generosity in China,” he said.
A Vietnamese vessel rescued the crew of GEM-VER. Vietnam also has overlapping claims to parts of the South China Sea, over which Beijing says its has “historic rights.”
The United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 junked China’s sweeping claims to the waterway, where $3 trillion in ship-borne trade pass through it every year. Beijing has refused to organize the ruling./Stacy Ang