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Duterte better be joking! UP’s Jay Batongbacal warns against sale of PH islands to China

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Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal is hoping President Rodrigo Duterte wasn’t serious when he said he will consider selling islands claimed by the Philippines in the South China Sea to Beijing.

In a text message sent to The Manila Standard on April 11, Batongbacal, a law professor at the University of the Philippines, said the Philippines will technically cede its claims over the entire West Philippine Sea if Duterte sells the islands in the disputed waters to China, and the Senate agrees to it.

“The maritime rights won through the arbitration case will practically be surrendered, and half of the country’s maritime offshore resource base given up,” he warned.

“Not to mention that it will also result in the sale of the nation’s dignity, self-respect and standing before the int’l community, and the loss of the heritage of our nation’s posterity,” Batongbacal added.

Should the islands claimed by the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea be sold to China, Batongbacal said the country will lose independent access to fishing grounds or petroleum resources along its western seaboard.

“So he had better be joking about this,” the professor said of Duterte.

Before flying to the Middle East on April 10, Duterte said he might sell Philippine islands to China if the country gets “very rich.”

Beijing claims the South China Sea in its entirety.