Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s statement on MalacaAang’s lawyering for China on the Spratlys and Benham Rise

Beijing has just successfully engaged the services of a new law firm in the Philippines, the Duterte, Cayetano, and Roque Law Offices.

As Philippine President, DFA Secretary, and Presidential Spokesperson, they are supposed to defend the Philippines' interests in the West Philippine Sea and the Benham Rise. Instead, they not only allowed China to take over the Spratlys and Benham Rise, they are now lawyering for China and defending its occupation of the Spratleys and exploration of Benham Rise.

For his part, Duterte made a mistake when he issued an Executive Order renaming the Benham Rise into the Philippine Rise. He should have renamed it China Rise, if all that he was going to do was offer it to China on a silver platter, after also surrendering the Spratlys to them. At the rate things are going, the Philippines' Manchurian Candidate won't leave any part of Philippine territory unavailable for Chinese occupation. What we have in MalacaAang is not a Philippine President, but a Chinese Governor.

On the other hand, as the new lawyer for China in MalacaAang, Roque has conveniently forgotten basic principles in international law, as he now twists them to dismiss the Aquino Administration's legal victory at the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal, saying China has no obligation under UNCLOS to comply with the tribunal's ruling, and that China can do whatever it wants to do. Roque is precisely working under a framework that ignores international law, conveniently forgetting all that he learned in law school just to defend the interests of his boss Duterte and client, the Chinese government.

In light of these developments, a full disclosure should be made by the Duterte, Cayetano, and Roque Law Offices on its TOR and engagement fees with China, because last we looked, the Filipino people were still paying their salaries as Philippine government officials.

Duterte, Cayetano, and Roque cannot go on serving a foreign master while drawing their salaries from the Philippine government, aside from the fact that as Filipinos, they should not be allowed to get away with treason. That is, of course, unless they turn out to be Chinese citizens all along, then they should be held accountable as Chinese agents.

We should be relieved from this situation where Filipino taxpayers are made to pay for the services of China's lawyers and Chinese agents in the Philippines. The least we can do is to not allow ourselves get screwed with our own money.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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