Identify ‘traitor,’ lawmaker urges House
MANILA, Philippines — Congress should investigate and identify “possible traitors” in the government who reportedly promised to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal as a Makabayan lawmaker said former President Rodrigo Duterte’s silence “speaks volumes” about the controversy.
House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro pointed out that only Duterte has not disavowed making any supposed promise to have the Sierra Madre removed from the disputed shoal where it was run aground in 1999.
China seized Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal, in 2012 and caused great political embarrassment to then President Benigno Aquino III, who scrambled to get the United States’ assistance in retaking the shoal.
The following year, Aquino ordered the filing of the arbitration case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which ruled in the Philippines’ favor a month after Duterte took office in 2016.
“As it is, Duterte has the most instances of sleeping with China,” Castro said in a message to the Inquirer. “Their silence speaks volumes and it seems that we may not have to look far to find the traitors that the Philippine Coast Guard is talking about.”
Ran aground deliberately
The Sierra Madre was purposely run aground on the shoal during the time of former President Joseph Estrada and both his son, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, and his former defense secretary, Orlando Mercado, denied that any such promise was made and that it contradicted the logic of their actions.
Estrada’s successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is now a Pampanga representative, also denied making any such promise because it contradicted the tack she was pursuing at that time with China’s paramount leader Jiang Zemin.
Who made the promise?
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. also denied making any such promise in any of his few engagements with the Chinese since he became president last year and that he would rescind such a promise — if there was any.
To uncover the “traitors” in government, Castro, the ACT Teachers party-list representative, said the three-member Makabayan bloc is drafting a House resolution to investigate who made the supposed promise or whether China was just making up the claim.
She pointed out that Duterte or even his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, have yet to issue a statement on Beijing’s claim that Manila made the promise.
Neither Duterte nor his daughter Sara did not even bother to denounce the China Coast Guard for its water cannon attack on the resupply mission to the Sierra Madre earlier this month, Castro added.
She recalled that in 2021, the older Duterte dismissed the 2016 PCA ruling that favored the Philippines’ claims in the West Philippine Sea as a “piece of paper” that he can dispose of in a trash bin,” and that it was a piece of paper “that led to nothing.”
“He also recently went to China to talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping, but what they discussed still has to be disclosed,” she added.
During his term, Duterte had repeatedly said he would set aside the PCA ruling won by his predecessor in favor of stronger economic ties between Manila and Beijing.
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