Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s explanation of the President’s declaration of his…
President Duterte said he is "inutil” when it comes to dealing with China.
“Inutil” in English is “inutile.”
The Latin root word is “utilis” which means useful. Putting “in” before “utilis” conveys rhe opposite which means “useless”, “unusable” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.
When the President himself describes himself as “inutil,” who are we to disagree?
Duterte’s 5th State-of-the- Nation Address confirms his incompetence and his unfitness for the position that he was elected to four years ago.
We should have no illusion about his remaining two years in Malacañang. It may get worse.
The subject of China brings out the worse of Duterte and what we should be concerned about is that the damage that he has done and would still be doing to the country could still repaired by the next president.
In his speech last Monday, he again talked about his helplessness with China’s aggression which is simply not acceptable because as retired Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio again pointed out, one can stand up to China without resorting to arms as demonstrated by Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Duterte again made the grave mistake of saying China is “in possession” of the disputed features in the South China Sea, which is a repeat of what he said in his SONA last year, which his own National Security adviser said was just a mispronunciation of “ïn position.”
This is what he said last Monday: “Now, plenty of critics, both sides, claim about nothing has been done to retake forcefully or physically the South China Sea. Alam mo, unless we are prepared to go to war, I would suggest that we better just call off and treat this, I said, with diplomatic endeavors.
“China is claiming it. We are claiming it. China has the arms, we do not have it. So, it is simple as that. They are in possession of the property. It will remain a property of a --- if you're a lawyer, property rights.
“They are --- it has nothing to do with the Philippine Laws of Property but it‘s akin to --- they are in possession. So what can we do? We have to go to war and I cannot afford it. Maybe some other president can, but I cannot. Inutil ako diyan, sabihin ko sa inyo. And I'm willing to admit it. Talagang inutil ako diyan. Wala akong magawa. I cannot...
“The moment I send my Marines there at the coastal shores of Palawan, tinamaan ng cruise missile lahat iyan. Hindi pa nga naka-set sail iyan eh, sabog na.”
In his 2019 SONA, this was what he said: “You know, I cannot go there even to bring the Coast Guard to drive them away. China also claims the property and he is in possession. ‘Yan ang problema. Sila ‘yung in possession and claiming all the resources there as an owner. We are claiming the same, but we are not in the position because of that fiasco noong dalawang nag-standoff doon during the time of my predecessor si Albert, ambassador. If I’m correct, I do not know his real name.”
This was made worse by the post-SONA clarification by then Presidential spokesman and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo that what Duterte meant was, China had “legal possession” even if it only occupies a small portion of the disputed area in the Spratlys.
Carpio then immediately sounded the alarm. In an interview with CNN Philippines’ Pinky Webb, he warned: “The moment you say that China is in legal possession, you abandon the (2016 Arbitral Court) ruling, you contradict the ruling and you give China an ammunition to demolish our ruling. China will always cite this statement by the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel that the Philippines has submitted that we are in legal possession and therefore that ruling will not apply anymore because this is a subsequent statement of the Philippines.”
Esperon tried to salvage the situation by saying, “I think the President did not say that they are ‘in possession’ but they are ‘in position.”
China must have enjoyed Panelo and Esperon making themselves looked silly with their ïn possession”and ïn position” semantics.
Yesterday, Xi Jinping must be happy listening to “ínutil” Duterte giving him more ammunition to demolish the Philippines’ win in The Hague.
The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.