Duterte calls ex-foreign affairs chief Del Rosario ''stupid''
President Rodrigo Duterte called former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario as ''stupid'' due to the decision of the previous administration to pull out a Philippine Navy ship in Scarborough Shoal in 2012, prompting China to occupy the area.
In a speech in Agusan del Norte Sunday night during the PDP-Laban campaign rally, Duterte recalled how Del Rosario negotiated with China through the aid of the United States to resolve the April 2012 standoff between Manila and Beijing in Scarborough Shoal.
"Del Roasrio was (former President Benigno) Aquino's (III) Foreign Affairs Secretary. He was the only one who negotiated. But America was scared. They knew that a war about something so small is not worth it. Because if they hit us and America decided to help, it could trigger a world war. America knows it. Everybody does," he said.
"If those nuclear bombs, atom(ic) bombs, and hydrogen bombs will explode, nothing will be left of this world. We would all be destroyed. So America said, 'Both of you should retreat.' The stupid Del Rosario ordered our ship to retreat, but China refused to follow. That is why they filed a case," Duterte added.
It could be recalled that Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Cuisia Jr., in a forum with the foreign press in April 2016, disclosed that to address the 2012 standoff between the Philippine Navy and Chinese ships, there was a verbal agreement of simultaneous withdrawal of vessels in the area.
He had said the US State Department brokered the agreement.
However, Cuisia had said China breached the deal.
Cuisia had said he and the Chinese Ambassador to the US were both part of the discussions, but after the Philippines withdrew its ship, China denied about the agreement.
After more than 50 bilateral meetings with China on how to resolve the territorial dispute, the Aquino administration in 2014, questioned before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal China's nine-dash line, which also covers areas within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
In July 2016, shortly after Duterte assumed the presidency, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China's historic and sovereign claim in almost the entire South China Sea.
But China rejected the ruling as it continues with its activities in the South China Sea, including the creation of artificial islands.
Duterte has decided to shelve for the meantime the arbitral ruling as he has taken a softer stance with China.
Duterte is set to visit China this week, his fourth since he assumed office. Celerina Monte/DMS