Duterte asks China to treat Filipinos as brothers

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 August) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte appealed to China to treat Filipinos as brothers not enemies, as he reiterated the country’s position to resolve the territorial conflict between the two countries through a peaceful means.

In his message during the National Heroes’ Day commemoration at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, Duterte said he is hoping China would consider the conditions of the poor Filipino fishermen who depend on the West Philippines Sea.

“And I know the dynamics inside China, it has been explained to me very well. But if we’ll not be…the Chinese people this time might find a place in their hearts for the Filipinos. After all, I come from…there’s a Chinese blood in me, so I hope that you treat us as your brothers, not your enemies and take note of the plight of our citizens,” he said.

Duterte said he wanted to hold bilateral talks with China to avoid risk of the latter walking out of the negotiation.

He said he wanted to personally bring the country’s case to the representative from China based on the decision of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in The Hague, the Netherlands.

He said he will not use the judgment of the arbitral tribunal now, “but I would one day sit in front of your representative or you and then I will lay bare my position and I would say that this paper…I cannot get out of the four corners of this document and that’s just the arbitral judgment,” he told Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua who was among the audience during Monday’s commemoration.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio will grace a forum on “The West Philippine Sea Dispute: Now We Won, What’s Next?” Friday at the Ateneo De Davao University (ADDU) to explain what other options the Philippines may take in the face of post-arbitration challenge with China.

Speaking in Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City, ADDU law professor Cecilia Jover-Angeles said some 500 participants from local schools and organizations are expected to attend the forum.

“He (Carpio) will discuss what options we have and he will explain what this dispute all about. Now that the decision is out, he will explain, is there anything we can do to enforce the decision?,” she said.

She cited the importance of educating the Filipinos on the West Philippine Sea issue as a momentous victory for a small country like the Philippines against a superpower.

“We are happy that the Philippine position was upheld. People don’t realize it but this is a momentous victory for a small country. The decision (favoring the Philippines) is a big accomplishment in itself,” she said.

On July 12 this year the UN Arbitral Tribunal ruled that China has no legal basis to assert sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea and its “nine-dash line” is invalid.

The Tribunal said China has violated Philippine sovereignty over the disputed territories as well as the latter’s historic rights to resources within the “nine-dash line”.

“China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ are contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the Convention; and further declares that the Convention superseded any historic rights, or sovereign rights or jurisdiction, in excess of the limits imposed therein,” it said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)