De Lima: Duterte a ‘Chinese Governor’

Detained Senator Leila de Lima has called President Rodrigo Duterte “a Chinese Governor” whom she said is “lawyering for China and defending its occupation of the Spratlys and exploration of Benham Rise.”

“What we have in Malacañang is not a Philippine President, but a Chinese Governor,” the senator said in written statement release January 17.

She said President Duterte, Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano and Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque “are supposed to defend the Philippines’ interests in the West Philippine Sea and the Benham Rise.”

“Instead, they not only allowed China to take over the Spratlys and Benham Rise, they are now lawyering for China and defending its occupation of the Spratlys and exploration of Benham Rise,” she added.

“Duterte made a mistake when he issued an Executive Order renaming the Benham Rise into the Philippine Rise. He should have renamed it China Rise, if all that he was going to do was offer it to China on a silver platter, after also surrendering the Spratlys to them,” she said.

“Roque has conveniently forgotten basic principles in international law, as he now twists them to dismiss the Aquino Administration’s legal victory at the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal, saying China has no obligation under UNCLOS to comply with the tribunal’s ruling, and that China can do whatever it wants to do. Roque is precisely working under a framework that ignores international law, conveniently forgetting all that he learned in law school just to defend the interests of his boss Duterte and client, the Chinese government,” de Lima added.

In January 15 press briefing in Malacañang, Roque said “in international law, the decision itself is the implementation of the law because that’s a statement of the rights of the parties which cannot be extinguished and which does not depend on any country accepting its binding nature.”

“Whether or not they (China) accept it, it’s there and that’s the binding nature of international law. Why is it binding on China whether or not it accepts? Because it’s there,” he added.

“The issue of whether or not China accepts the ruling is immaterial under international law. What is material under international is it’s there. It’s there, that’s the unique feature of international law. You cannot deny what is there,” he further explained.