We are now trying to fix del Rosario’s mess: Panelo

“We are now trying to fix his mess, and no amount of justification from him could justify his monumental blunder,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said after former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said Panelo’s statement saying the arbitral tribunal’s ruling on West Philippine Sea “remains unenforceable because no foreign force seems persuaded to help us enforce it” is absolutely mindless.

Del Rosario also said that they “were approached by the US, an honest broker for both China and the Philippines, to agree to a simultaneous withdrawal of ships from the shoal. China had over 30 ships while the Philippines had a total of 1 ship.”

“We ultimately agreed to the U.S. proposal. At the appointed time, we withdrew, whereas China – acting with duplicity – did not. When confronted with the non-withdrawal of their ships, Beijing’s response was a denial of the existence of such an agreement,” del Rosario added.

Panelo, in a statement, said that “there is no proof that the United States has brokered an agreement for the Philippines and China to withdraw their respective vessels during the Scarborough Shoal standoff in 2012. Even if there was such brokering, Mr. Del Rosario’s ordering the withdrawal of Philippine vessel or vessels without the knowledge and consent of former President Aquino demonstrated his inexperience and naïveté in the art of psychological warfare.”

“By such horrendous mistake we lost Scarborough Shoal to the Chinese under Mr. Del Rosario’s watch,” he said.

Panelo also noted that President Duterte’s “previous statements that he would not in the meantime raise the issue of the arbitral ruling as he discusses trade relations is not shelving the judgement. By repeatedly making such statements, he in fact puts China on notice that such issue remains and a sword of Damocles hanging over its head.”

“Any armed enforcement of the arbitral could provoke bloody hostilities between the two countries. Bilateral negotiations to resolve the conflicting claims is the better and circumspect option than unnecessarily risking the lives of our soldiers,” Panelo said.