President Duterte blames former DFA chief Del Rosario, others for South China Sea issue

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario meets with British foreign minister Philip Hammond and says China's test flight on a disputed island is a cause of concern. (Photo captured from Reuters video)
Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario  (from Reuters video)

(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday chastised former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and those “who keep on talking,” saying they allowed China’s construction of man-made structures in the disputed South China Sea to “blossom into something like an armed garrison now.”

Ito sila Del Rosario, and the rest of the guys, itong lahat na nagdadaldal. Where were they?” he said in his speech during the Coast Guard Auxiliary National Convention in Davao.

According to Duterte, the problem was brewing as early as six years ago, when the country’s national broadsheets published pictures “every day” of what appeared to be China’s construction of manmade structures in the disputed area.

He said “just instead of filing a case” with the Permanent Court of Arbitration then, “the Philippines should have called America..and the rest of the (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) claiming a part of the sea there (to an urgent conference) to discuss what we will do.”

America’s “double-standard”

While criticizing America’s “double standard,” Duterte noted that the country was the “only superpower” that could “confront China.”

“And to nip it in the bud. Ok, let’s organize a (transnational) task force. At pumunta doon. Sabihin natin, ‘why are you digging when as a matter of fact, even without the arbitral ruling or anything, the constant law of the sea is that you cannot build a manmade structure,'” he said.

Tapos ngayong wala na sila sa opisina, itong si Del Rosario, daldal ng daldal. Bakit hindi mo ginawa noong panahon mo? And in the first place, why did you allow the construction to blossom into something like an armed garrison now?” he added.

He also denied allegations he wasn’t asserting the country’s claims in the disputed area.

He said National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana could attest to this fact.

Sabi ko talaga, ‘that is ours. I’d like you to listen for a while.’ I said, ‘Mr. Xi Jinping, I would insist that that is ours. And i will drill oil there.’ Harap harapan talaga,” Duterte said.

Duterte noted that he could fight.

“If the majority of Filipinos say ‘let’s take it,’ there is always a time to die there. We die tomorrow. We go there…,” he said.

“But what for? Because if they strike us, the sea assets, they will strike the land. And they will have gone to the several structures where Americans are putting their provisions,” he added.

Possible ISIS threat

In his speech, Duterte also talked about a possible Islamic State threat in the country.

He said he was set to go to Russia on Tuesday to ask them if “they can spare us with the precision guided (missiles).”

“We have so many smart bombs but not as accurate as (the ones) guided by lasers or satellites or (others) na bahala na sino tatamaan. (But this) we are really not trying to (use) because it could cause so many collateral damages,” he said.