Del Rosario to Duterte: Standing up for nation's rights is not war vs. China

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 23) - Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario maintains that "standing up for our rights in the West Philippine Sea is not an act of war against China."

Del Rosario said that it's about time to put a stop to false claims that standing up for the nation's rights in the South China Sea is tantamount to a war against Beijing.

"We urge our people to reject this Chinese narrative of war because it is only intended to sow fear which is the trademark of a bully," Del Rosario said.

The former DFA chief that China itself will not wage a war against the Philippines due to such act's possible impact.

"Even as Foreign Minister Wang Yi believes that war would be self-injurious, President Xi Jinping's threat of war against the Philippines shows how their leadership perceives us," Del Rosario said further.

Pushing for a credible minimum defense posture

Del Rosario said that it is high time for the government to assert the country's rights by developing a credible minimum defense posture against any bully or attacker, whoever it might be.

"We are opposed to war as we should be. But if threatened by the use of force, we should be ready to inflict, at the very least, a bloody nose on any attacker who is out to harm us," he said.

Del Rosario also thanked the United States for clarifying the details of the Mutual Defense Treaty against China's incursion in Philippine waters.

"Any armed attack on any Philippine forces, aircraft, or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations under…our Mutual Defense Treaty," Del Rosario said.

There's also a need to pursue a multilateral approach and join in the conduct of joint patrol and freedom of navigations in the South China Sea.

War is not only option vs. China

Del Rosario enumerated some of the plans the country can take when dealing with China.

First, Duterte should raise again the 2016 arbitral ruling at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2021.

Second, the Philippines should also welcome the positions of the United States, Japan, EU, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and Indonesia against China's claims in the South China Sea.

Chinese officials should also be "criminally accountable for inflicting the most massive devastation" in the marine wealth in the South China Sea, Del Rosario said.

"Making China pay monetarily for its crimes. China mercilessly destroyed the breeding grounds of fish and other marine life in the Spratlys," Del Rosario added.

The government, he said, must also strengthen the Navy and Air Force to build a minimum credible defense posture.

Del Rosario also urged Duterte to appoint retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio as government advisor for his knowledge in the South China Sea dispute.

"Exhausting all possible diplomatic, political and legal means in evaluating our options," said Del Rosario.

Distrust of China

The former DFA chief said that it's hard to trust China.

"Over the same period, we have not seen the change that we would have wanted from Beijing. Beijing's aggressive actions are not accidental; they are intentional, and they can be expected to continue into the future," he said.

"When China makes a declaration, one can almost be sure that it is not consistent with what is happening on the ground," Del Rosario added.