President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he would throw away the country’s arbitral victory over China’s territorial claims at the West Philippine Sea as it was not set in stone—only in paper.

“Sabi nila itong papel na sa kaso nanalo tayo i-pursue mo. Pinursue ko, walang nangyari. Sabi…sa usapang bugoy, sabihin ko sa iyo ibigay mo sa’kin, sabihin ko sa’yo p***** ina, papel lang ‘yan. Itatapon ko ‘yan sa wastebasket,” he said in a televised meeting with Cabinet and health officials.

Duterte was referring to the victory of the Philippines over China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016.

Since the victory was awarded to the Philippines, Duterte had mostly been mum about the issue.

He asserted it, however, in September 2020 in a United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

“The award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon,” he said during his first UN address.

“We firmly reject attempts to undermine it,” he added.

But recently, specifically in his two latest public addresses, the president had been telling his Cabinet members to not be rude or disrespectful to China, to whom he said the Philippines was indebted for its vaccine donations.

His spokesman Harry Roque also recently listed government projects that would not have been accomplished without China’s help. John Ezekiel J. Hirro