Recent remarks of President Rodrigo Duterte regarding disputed waters in the South China Sea are tantamount to selling the country's sovereignty, Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo said Sunday.
“Noong nakaraan lang na mga araw, mayroong deklarasyon si Pangulo na sinasabi na, ‘Wala na tayong magagawa.’ Kapag iyong Pangulo na iyong nagsabi na wala nang magagawa, parang na-give up na natin iyong pakikipaglaban,” Robredo said on her radio show.
Duterte last week said China "is already in possession" of the South China Sea, as he expressed his aversion to holding military drills in the waters contested by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
"...I said China is already in possession. It’s now in their hands. So why do you have to create frictions, strong military activity that will prompt a response from China?" Duterte said.
According to Robredo, such remarks should not be taken lightly as this could have further implications for the generations to come.
"Iyong mga irresponsible na comments galing sa Pangulo, galing sa spokesman, galing sa ating ibang officials, tantamount ito sa pagbebenta ng sovereignty natin," she said.
"Kaya sana nag-iingat sa mga sinasabi, kasi iyong apektado dito, hindi lang tayo pero iyong mga henerasyon na susunod sa atin. Kasi iyong pagbuhay ng bawat Pilipino, nakataya dito," added Robredo.
Earlier this month, the Chinese Coast Guard prevented a team of GMA News from filming and interviewing Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal, located within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines.
A 2016 United Nations (UN) Tribunal ruling, however, provided that the Scarborough Shoal cannot be considered an EEZ of the Philippines where it can exercise sovereign rights as the area — composed of five to seven rocks — cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own.
As such, the UN identified the Scarborough Shoal as a common fishing ground for the Philippines, China, and other nearby countries.
"Nakakatakot na nakakagalit... Nakakalungkot kasi ito iyong pinapamukha sa atin: na talagang iyong mga dapat may karapatan naman tayo, inaangkin ng iba—inaangkin ng China," Robredo said in response to the incident involving the media team.