A political scientist said on Wednesday that Filipinos should reject candidates in the 2022 polls who have a “defeatist” attitude towards issues on the South China Sea amid China’s claiming big parts of the disputed waters.

“We must avoid a defeatist candidate. Somebody who would say China is too powerful. China is too big. There is no point in challenging China. We have heard that in the last six years. We cannot afford another,” said Professor Renato de Castro.

De Castro is  a full professor in the International Studies Department, De La Salle University, Manila, and holds the Charles Lui Chi Keung Professorial Chair in China Studies.

While he did not state it directly, de Castro was clearly taking a pot shot at President Rodrigo Duterte who has been perceived by his critics as cozying up to China for most part of his administration.

In his sixth State of the Nation Address last July, Duterte said: “We need to do more in our partners. We continue scaling our maritime domain awareness, defense capabilities. Yet, we will not close our doors for diplomacy because that is how disputes are settled and never by force.”

The Philippines on July 12, 2016, won its petition against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands after the court invalidated Beijing’s supposedly historic rights over nearly the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

China has repeatedly ignored the 2016 PCA ruling, while the Philippines has sought to resolve the sea dispute peacefully and diplomatically.

Duterte will be running for vice president in the 2022 polls.





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