By Pia Lee-Brago
MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte’s statement on possibly selling Philippine islands in the South China Sea to China if the country gets “very rich” could send a message that Malacañang is not faithfully executing its role to defend what rightfully belongs to the country, according to the Philippines’ former top diplomat.
Former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario said such statements should be avoided, as suggested earlier by Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
Del Rosario said these off-the-cuff remarks “put us in a poor strategic position without the benefit of flexibility, especially if there is a need to negotiate.”
“The legality of statements made is not clear and should be studied. It could be a very thin line, since it can be further argued that the Palace is not faithfully executing its role to defend what is ours,” Del Rosario said.
He emphasized that the arbitration outcome stands, since nothing can be done to affect its validity.
It could undermine, however, the Philippines’ ability and that of other nations to implement the outcome.
“It gives our northern neighbor the political momentum to persist in its unlawful expansion agenda,” Del Rosario added.
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