By Arjay L. Balinbin
President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday, Aug. 14, talked tough against the People’s Republic of China, demanding that it should “rethink” its policy in the disputed South China Sea region.
The President also told the European Union (EU), which has been critical of his war on drugs, to review its human rights policies. “You might want to take a closer look at your policies… You don’t humiliate leaders. You don’t send investigators here. That is really not allowed,” Mr. Duterte said in his remarks at the launching at Malacañang of business advocacy group Go Negosyo’s “Pilipinas Angat Lahat” program.
As for China’s behavior in the South China Sea, the President said: “They have to rethink that because that would be a flashpoint someday.”
He added: “And [I’m] even warning. You cannot create an island [there]. It’s man-made, and you say that the air[space] above this artificial island is yours. That is wrong. Because those waters are considered international sea and the right of innocent passage is guaranteed.”
“It does not need any permission to sail through the open seas. And if it’s nearby territorial water, you guarantee what you would call the right of innocent passage,” the President also said.
His spokesman Harry L. Roque, Jr. last Monday said that the Philippine government will continue to assert its sovereign rights over the disputed territories in the South China Sea despite the latest incident where a Filipino pilot was threatened by the Chinese Navy while flying over the area.
“They will not stop us. We will continue with our flights. We will assert our sovereignty. And if need be, Filipino pilots will die for our sovereignty,” Mr. Roque said in a press briefing at the Palace.
He also said that an investigation will be conducted. “And if the information is true, the good news is that the pilot did not cower at the Chinese threat and carried on with his flight. That means that we are upholding our title, that we are asserting our sovereignty. We conducted the flight over our islands,” the President’s spokesman added.