By: Elena Grace Flores
The Philippines has more to lose in negotiating with China on the joint exploration over the South China Sea even if the rumored free supply of hi-tech train wagons from the Chinese is true, and President Rodrigo Duterte should know that.
Besides, the freedom of navigation rights of the world around those disputed channels are not negotiable. The Philippines just cannot give in to China’s wishes even if the President wanted to or else it will gain more enemies – not just the neighboring Asian countries but also the world’s super powers.
Now Senator Leila De Lima, former Justice Secretary who was a delegate to the tribunal’s oral arguments at The Hague last year, warned the Duterte government to be careful in making deals with China. “It could be prejudicial to our interests if the tribunal says we have exclusive rights to it because its part of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” De Lima said in an interview over DZBB. This was seconded by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who would rather support a multi-lateral approach to resolving the West Philippine Sea dispute.