Rodrigo Duterte’s fellow San Beda University (SBU) alumni criticized the President’s statements belittling the nation’s victory in the international arbitral tribunal on the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
In a statement Sunday evening, an informal group of SBU alumni called on Duterte to uphold the Philippine Constitution by retracting his “defeatist” statements on China’s occupation of internationally-recognized Philippine islands at the WPS.
“When a part of our country’s territory is taken against our will by the People’s Republic of China and our countrymen, particularly the fishermen, are threatened with force from exclusively enjoying our nation’s marine resources, the President is solemnly bound to uphold, defend and protect his countrymen and the integrity of our national territory,” the statement said.
Signed by former SBU student leaders, the statement is the first ever statement issued by Duterte’s fellow Bedans critical of the President.
The statement, also posted on online petition platform change.org called on the President to:
• Retract his public statement that China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea;
• Retract his declaration that the Arbitral Award “is a mere scrap of paper, and should be thrown in the wastebasket” in order that it will not be used as an admission against the interests of the Philippines; and to
• Categorically, demonstrably and publicly uphold the mandate of our Philippine Constitution that: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”(Art XII, Sec. 2).
The statement, which was uploaded on the social networking site Facebook and on public advocacy platform Change.org, continues to gain signatories from San Beda alumni.
In his recent late night addresses to the nation, Duterte repeatedly justified the presence of Chinese boats within the Philippine exclusive economic zone near Palawan province.
Duterte said the international tribunal’s upholding Philippine rights on the West Philippine Sea is merely a piece of paper he could throw in a wastebasket.
He also said his earlier promises to personally stake Philippine claims to the territory were mere campaign jokes.
Senator Leila de Lima, Makabayan President Neri Colmenares and former Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairperson and bar examinations topnotcher Winston Ginez were among those who signed the statement.
Former presidents and officers of the SBU College of Arts and Sciences Student Council, former editors of college student newspaper The Bedan, as well as former presidents of national youth and students organizations were also among the early signers of the petition.
Duterte earned his law degree from the then San Beda College in 1972.
After winning the presidency, Duterte has appointed a number of SBU classmates in his Cabinet.
Duterte is the first Bedan who became Philippine President.
Early aspirants included Ramon Mitra and Raul Roco, both editors in chief of The Bedan, and Ambassador Roy Señeres. Benigno Aquino Jr. was also believed to have aspired for the presidency.
Duterte nearly failed to graduate after shooting a fellow College of Law student a few weeks before graduation.
Then College of Law acting dean and former Senator Rene Saguisag recommended his expulsion but was overruled by the administering Benedictine monks on “humanitarian reasons.”
A tabloid also quoted Duterte bragging he once threatened to burn down the school after a disagreement with a law professor.
Before enrolling at SBU, Duterte also matriculated at the Ateneo de Davao University (which expelled him for disciplinary infractions), Holy Cross College of Digos (now Cor Jesu College), and the Lyceum University of the Philippines. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)