By: Jon Ibanez

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said its a “National tragedy” to call the 2016 arbitral ruling as a “scrap of paper”.

The former Philippine top diplomat on Thursday lamented President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that the 2016 arbitral ruling is a scrap of paper, stressing the international tribunal’s decision is “valid and binding” and must be enforced against China.

In a press statement, del Rosario said, “China, the illegal occupant in the West Philippine Sea, believes that the arbitral ruling is a mere scrap of paper. The Philippines is the country which won the arbitral ruling against China.”

“It is, therefore, a national tragedy that the President of the Philippines takes the side of China and believes that the Arbitral ruling is a scrap of paper meant to be thrown in the waste basket, to the severe prejudice of the Filipino people,” the former foreign affairs chief added.

He likewise, reiterated that it is President Duterte’s job under the 1987 Constitution to defend the country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea and enforce the Arbitral Award against China.

Del Rosario clarified that “with due respect this is not a blaming game among Filipinos, but a constitutional mandate to be acted upon against a foreign aggressor for the benefit of our country and our own people”.

The former top diplomat issued the statement after President Duterte, in a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday night, again downplayed the country’s victory in the 2016 international ruling which invalidated China’s claims in the West Philippine Sea.

The President said in that meeting that the ruling is a piece of paper that should be thrown in a waste basket.

Duterte also told del Rosario that he will not go to the United Nations to defend the country’s claims as it is a “waste of time” and would disrupt Philippines’ ties with China.