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De Lima urges AFP to defy ‘traitor’ Duterte: Build fishers’ shelter on Spratlys sandbar no matter what China thinks

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Senator Leila de Lima warned the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against following President Duterte’s orders to stop the construction of shelters for Filipino fishermen on sandbars off a Manila-claimed island in the West Philippine Sea.

De Lima claimed Duterte’s order was treasonous.

“To the officers and men of the AFP, you have a long history of heroes and patriots. You should know treason when it rears its ugly head in your motherland. There is no more treasonous conduct and act of betrayal than relinquishing our Spratlys territories in the midst of an international decision saying we have every right to hold on to and defend those islands and atolls as part of our exclusive economic zone, to the exclusion of China,” she said in statement.

“Do not betray your people and your country in this watershed moment of our sovereignty and independence. Do not follow Duterte down his traitor’s path,” De Lima said.

Such positioning by the Philippines is backed up not only by international law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), but also by the UN Arbitral Tribunal, an unprecedented victory in an international case and the support of the world’s largest democracies, the senator said.

“We have already won our claims at the International Arbitral Tribunal of the UNCLOS. That victory should serve as our framework insofar as bilateral and multilateral talks on the Spratlys is concerned,” she said.

“Only our Chinese lackey of a President continues to betray us and our victory, dragging with him the whole Armed Forces who still think they are following orders from a Filipino commander-in-chief, instead of a Chinese lapdog,” De Lima added.

The AFP, she said, should be aware that there might be no turning back from the policy of subservience or defeatism being pushed by the President.

Reports quoted Defense Sec. Deflin Lorenzana saying that the President followed the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that such construction of structures could be perceived as a violation of an earlier agreement with China to maintain status quo in the disputed area.

“It could be that the status quo of Chinese dominance and the Philippines’ defaulting in the Spratlys is firmly irreversible,” she said.

De Lima said the AFP would only have itself to blame if Filipinos’ own defenders have become a mere annex of China’s People’s Liberation Army as led by China’s Manchurian Candidate in the Philippines – who was the President himself.