MANILA - Senator Richard Gordon on Tuesday criticized President Rodrigo Duterte's stand when it comes to the West Philippine Sea dispute involving China.
Gordon was referring to Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address wherein the chief executive described himself as an “inutile” who cannot do anything against China regarding the West Philippine Sea.
For Gordon, it would be better if Duterte just skipped the issue.
“I don't know why, parang he has to ingratiate himself with China all the time. Simply because he is asking Xi Jinping na ‘bigyan mo naman kami at a discount nung vaccine.’ He’s giving too much, he’s raising China too much. It can be a business deal. And if China wishes to give us a discount, fine. In the first place, malayo pa yung vaccine na ‘yan eh,” Gordon said.
He also said Duterte's repeated statement that the Philippines cannot stand against the Chinese military might “lacks assertion.”
He said asserting the country's rights do not automatically mean that the Philippines will go to war.
“Napakaagang sabihin yan, hindi pa nagsisimula ang labanan… Hindi ako pumapayag na i-relinquish yung Scarborough Shoal, yung Spratlys, 'yung claim natin, hindi possession 'yan. Anong possession nila? We can cross that sea anytime… But to my mind, we should always assert… Kung hindi mo panindigan, lalo kang bubully-hin,” Gordon said
For Gordon, whatever “card” the president is playing with regard to the West Philippine Sea issued should not be shown to China.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, on the contrary, said he understands where the chief executive was coming from.
For Sotto, Duterte's use of the word "inutile" in describing himself as a leader when it comes to the West Philippine Sea issue, gives a different meaning.
“Ang understanding ko dun sa sinsabing inutil as far as the West Philippine Sea is concerned, kung magkakaroon ng labanan ako ganoon ang intindi ko sa sinsabi niya. Wala talaga naman tayong ibubuga eh kaya dapat we should be friendly with our neighbors, ganun ang dating sa kaniya 'yun and he was not probably able to express it well pero sa akin ganoon ang dating kasi,” he said.
“He probably used the word inutile, the English inutil, kasi 'yung Tagalog inutil ang sama ng dating 'di ba, ang sama ng dating sa atin noon, pero 'yung English na inutile is, just saying, I can’t do something about it at the moment parang ganoon eh,” Sotto added.
Sotto also said delivering a formal address is one weakness of the president, because of the latter’s difficulty to really say what he means.
Sotto, likewise, believes the president is really fighting for the country’s territorial rights through Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr.
“Sec. Locsin will not allow us to be trampled upon by anyone, not even China or the United States or any other country. Kaya I am confident that we will stand our ground as far as the issue of the WPS or South China Sea is concerned lalo na lately na naglabas ng statement ang US backing up our position, backing up the position of the DFA. Okay na 'yun, that is good enough," Sotto said.