‘Mukhang iniwan na tayo sa ere ng Presidente’: Hontiveros on Duterte’s inutil remarks

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“Imbes na palakasin ang loob ng bansa at ng mga Pilipino para ipaglaban ang Pinas, mukhang iniwan na tayo sa ere ng Presidente. May labing-apat na Pilipinong mangingisda na hindi parin nahahanap. Ang mga mangingisda ng Gem-Ver ay lubog na sa utang dahil sa pagpapaayos ng nasira nilang barko. At ang masasabi lang ng presidente, inutil siya? Baka nga tama siya, pero nakakadismaya,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a statement.

This is after President Rodrigo Duterte said in his SONA 2020 that China is in possession of some disputed features in West Philippine Sea. “So what can we do? We have to go to war and I cannot afford it. Maybe some other president can, but I cannot. Inutil ako diyan, sabihin ko sa inyo. And I’m willing to admit it. Talagang inutil ako diyan. Wala akong magawa. I cannot.”

Hontiveros said “we need a leader who can stand up to bullies and speak up for the Filipino people.”

“By admitting he is “inutil,” the president is negotiating from a position of weakness,” she added.

The senator added that “this is not good for the alliance building we should be doing in the region in order to assert our sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea. Hindi kailangang mapunta sa giyera ang pag-giit ng ating soberanya. Nagagawa ito ng ibang bansa sa pamamagitan ng diplomasya at pulitika, bakit tayo hindi?”

“Maritime and international law experts have repeatedly said that creating a stronger international network is the best way to put our foot down with China. The international community has already rejected China’s preposterous maritime claims, but it seems that the President is more concerned about his personal ties with China. Foreign policy is often said to be an extension of a leaders’ relationships with other heads of state, so it’s becoming clear where the President’s loyalty lies,” she added.