Palace on ex-DFA chief: It's not good to dictate to Duterte
Malacanang said on Thursday that it was not good for former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to dictate on President Rodrigo Duterte on the next step after his speech before the United Nations General Assembly where he brought up the arbitral award on the Philippines over the South China Sea territorial dispute with China.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a virtual press briefing, at the same time, insisted that Duterte's statement on arbitral ruling was a restatement of an old existing policy.
"I don't think it was a strong message...when he was still campaigning, the President said he would not surrender even an inch of our territory. So that is being consistent with his earlier statement that we will not give away out territory and we will stand firm on our victory before the UN Tribunal of the Law of the Sea," he said.
During his virtual speech before the UNGA early Wednesday, Duterte said the July 2016 award by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration to the Philippines is now part of the international law and Manila rejects attempts to undermine it.
Some quarters, including Del Rosario, lauded Duterte for bringing up the arbitral ruling before the UN General Assembly.
He also said the next step for Duterte and his administration is to "put in reality the invocation of the arbitral award" and the government should work earnestly to get the support of more countries so that that ruling would be raised more emphatically in next year's UN General Assembly.
Asked on Del Rosario's statement, Roque said, "As for me, Secretary Del Rosario, he is a Filipino, he is entitled to speak but it's not good to dictate on the President."
"I don't know what is his special qualification to dictate to a President."
The spokesman also noted that during Del Rosario's six-year stint as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs during the Aquino administration, the Philippines lost its physical possession of the Panatag Shoal to China.
"So, I don't think he has much to show by way of his actual accomplishment as DFA Secretary. And all I can say is we should think first of what qualification do we have to dictate a sitting President who has been elected by the people," he added.
It was during the Aquino administration and Del Rosario was the DFA chief when the Philippines filed before the UN Tribunal a petition to invalidate China's historic and sovereign claim in almost the entire South China Sea through its nine-dash line.
The PCA ruling came shortly after Duterte assumed the presidency in July 2016.
As his "unsolicited advice" to Del Rosario, Roque, an international law professor before becoming Duterte's spokesman, said, "the existence of the award by itself is its enforcement because that won't be erased. And like what the President has said, it now forms part of international law." Celerina Monte/DMS