PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has pledged to pursue the country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea –– but at a later time even as he said he is open to joint exploration with China.
Not now, Duterte issued the statement days after previously saying in Davao City that he will set aside the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that decided in our favor over China.
“We will have to take this up, but not now. But I will bring this up. Alam ng ambassador dito. I will bring this up someday, during my time,” the President said.
“In the play of politics now, I will set aside the arbitral ruling,” Duterte said.
“I will not impose anything on China. Why? Because the politics here in Southeast Asia is changing,” he added.
He was referring to China’s moves to militarize its man-made islands in the West Philippine Sea.
China has deployed anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems on the artificial islets it has built in the disputed Spratly Islands, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in findings reported by Reuters.
He said he will only “delay” the Philippines’ claim in the West Philippine Sea.
“Tayo may (arbitral ruling) gusto nila i-push ko. Bakit ako maghanap ng away? Ipadala ko Marines? We have no might, not this time,” Duterte said.
The President also said he is s open to having joint oil exploration with China in disputed maritime territories.
“Kung gusto ninyo, let’s just develop the oil there, hati-hati nalang tayo. Anuhin ko naman iyang dagat kung walang... What will I do with the Scarborough Shoal? Swim there every day? For what? To send my soldiers there to die? Nakalutang lahat? Susmaryosep. I will just have to start with the domestic problems,” Duterte said.
“.... Maganda na economy, it’s hitting 7, so ‘wag na nating sirain.”he said.
In another interview, presidential communications office Secretary Martin Andanar also said Monday that Duterte wants to build confidence and trust with Chinese leaders.
“We have to bear in mind that since President Duterte assumed office, he has been revitalizing bilateral ties with China. His administration has been building confidence and trust with Chinese leaders and we expect this to continue, until such time that we achieve a trust level that will allow us to discuss the more sensitive issues in our bilateral relations,” Andanar said.
Andanar said the government will not deviate from the ruling when dealing with the Chinese on the issue of the West Philippine Sea.
“The Philippine government reaffirms its respect for and strict adherence to this milestone ruling and will be guided by its parameters when tackling the issue of maritime claims in the South China Sea,” Andanar said.