“It would only be convincing if Duterte himself would sail to the disputed waters and pressure China to surrender their irrational claim over almost the entire South China Sea.”
By RUTH LUMIBAO
MANILA — Amid growing criticism regarding his failure to defend Philippine territory from Chinese occupation, President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to visit the Philippine Rise (formerly known as the Benham Rise) on May 15-16 in order to assert Philippine sovereignty over the submerged plateau.
Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA – Pilipinas) criticized Duterte’s move as a mere ‘publicity stunt’. After allowing Chinese incursion on Philippine territory — from permitting the construction of air strips and military bases in contested waters in the West Philippine Sea to allowing ‘joint research’ with China upon assessment that Filipino scientists could not afford to conduct research on their own — the progressive fisherfolk group highlighted that the president himself should be held accountable for surrendering Philippine territory and for permitting an imminent inter-imperialist war between the United States and China to ensue in the country.
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“The scheduled visit of Duterte in Philippine Rise is nothing more than a publicity stunt, to pacify the public rage for his subservience to China. We do not buy the promulgation of Duterte that his move to visit the Philippine Rise is meant to exercise our sovereign rights as he literally surrendered our marine resources and allowed environmental destruction brought about by his defeatism to Chinese illegal occupation and reclamation in the West Philippine Sea,” PAMALAKAYA – Pilipinas Chairperson Fernando Hicap said in a statement.
“It would only be convincing if Duterte himself would sail to the disputed waters and pressure China to surrender their irrational claim over almost the entire South China Sea. Otherwise, his move is only a PR-stunt and a damage-control for his outright surrender of the West Philippine Sea to China,” he concluded.