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Retract statements on West Philippine Sea, San Beda grads urge Duterte

A group of San Beda graduates has called on President Rodrigo Duterte to take a clear stand against China's illegal activities in the West Philippine Sea.

In a "fraternal statement of concern," the group said Duterte, a fellow alumnus, should "publicly uphold" the Constitution by "retracting his defeatist statements" on China's encroachment in the West Philippine Sea.

"When a part of our country's territory is taken against our will by the People’s Republic of China and our countrymen, particularly the fishermen, are threatened with force from exclusively enjoying our nation’s marine resources,  the President is solemnly  bound to uphold, defend and protect his countrymen and the integrity of our national territory," the statement, issued on Sunday evening, said.

Specifically, the group is calling on Duterte to:

  • Retract his public statement that China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea;
  • Retract his declaration that the arbitral award "is a mere scrap of paper, and should be thrown in the wastebasket" in order that it will not be used as an admission against the interests of the Philippines; and to
  • Categorically, demonstrably and publicly uphold the mandate of our Philippine Constitution that: "The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens."

The group said among the statement signatories were former presidents and officers of the College Student Council; former editors of The Bedan, the official college paper; former presidents of national youth and students organizations, and other graduates who have distinguished themselves in law, government, banking, business, media and other professional fields.

In a Cabinet meeting on May 5, Duterte downplayed the 2016 UN Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling which invalidated China's claims in the West Philippine Sea, describing it as a piece of paper that should be thrown in a waste basket.

Malacanang, in defending Duterte's remark, said The ruling, which China does not recognize is unenforceable.

Duterte earned his law degree  in 1972 from then-San Beda College. After his victory in the 2016 elections, he has appointed many Bedan alumni in his Cabinet as well as within the bureaucracy. —KBK, GMA News