STRATBASE ADR Institute Inc. trustee and program convener Renato de Castro said Tuesday it would be an act of treason and a ground for impeachment if President Rodrigo Duterte made true his plan to sell to Beijing the islands controlled by the Philippines in the South China Sea.
But other analysts and a former ambassador to the United Nations downplayed the President’s pronouncement, saying Duterte might have just been joking.
“That is treason! He should be impeached! You don’t sell your country’s territory! You are giving away your territorial integrity and your strategic advantage,” De Castro, who is also a professor of De La Salle University, said in a text message.
Malacañang on Tuesday said Duterte’s offer to sell the islands controlled by Manila to Beijing was the President’s light-hearted way of assuring Beijing of his friendship.
And a Cabinet official said an expedition to Benham Rise to explore its potentials for the country’s food requirements will be rescheduled to the second week of May.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, who will lead the expedition supposedly scheduled this week, said the trip was called off due to a low-pressure area in Benham Rise area.
On Monday, Duterte said that he would offer to sell the islands controlled by Manila to ease the tensions in the South China Sea.
He also assured Beijing that he would not be placing any offensive weapons in the Spratly island chain to maintain the friendship he had established with Beijing.
“We do not [mean harm] to China. We are friends, as a matter of fact. And maybe when we get rich, very rich, I can sell the land to you for — it’s yours,” he said.
“When the spectacle of war is gone, nothing is dangerous to the Philippines.”
But De Castro advised not to “take Duterte’s statement seriously.”
Maritime expert and University of the Philippines professor Jay Batongbacal agreed with De Castro and said he “can’t take his statement seriously at this point”.
Batongbacal said the Philippines “technically can cede its claim” for monetary or other consideration through a treaty negotiated by the Executive and ratified by the Senate.
“If it does so, it will cede control of the entire WPS, leaving the PH with no independent access to fishing grounds or petroleum resources along its western seaboard,” he said.
Aside from that, Batongbacal said, the maritime rights that the won through its arbitration case would “practically be surrendered” and even half of the country’s maritime offshore marine resources base given up. With John Paolo Bencito