PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte sees no problem with China in using patrol vessels acquired from Japan in Philippine waters.
“Yes, within our territorial waters… But if you want, wala man tayong problema. I don’t think they would stop us, I mean China would stop us just going there and making a cruise,” the President said in a chance interview after visiting the Japan Coast Guard on Thursday afternoon.
Duterte added that he even told China they could park near the Philippines’ territorial waters.
“As a matter of fact, I also told them [China] that they can go near my territorial water and park there if they want,” the President said.
During his three-day official visit to Japan, Duterte and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reaffirmed the countries’ maritime cooperation.
Their joint statement said that Japan would provide patrol vessels and other equipment for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
Duterte and Abe also witnessed the signing of the Exchange of Notes on Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) Loan for the two large-scale patrol vessels to the Philippines.
Duterte hailed Japan’s intention to provide high-speed boats to the Philippines.
“I am satisfied with the generous offer of Japan.”
Japan has agreed to extend a $157-million (16.4-billion yen) loan for two patrol boats for the Philippine Coast Guard to help boost the Philippines’ maritime security.
The amount is part of a $204-million loan the rest of which will fund an agribusiness project for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The Philippines will also receive TC-90 trainer aircraft from Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Japanese assistance also includes high-speed boats and other equipment for counter-terrorism especially in Mindanao.
The agri-business loan will be used for harnessing agribusiness opportunities through robust and vibrant entrepreneurship supportive of peaceful transformation (HARVEST).
HARVEST aims to promote activities that contribute to the creation of employment opportunities and the enhancement of household income through the improvement of access to financing and the vitalization of economic activities in the ARMM and its environs by providing necessary funds for investment in plant and equipment, operating capital, etc. to private businesses and agricultural cooperatives there. It is expected that this cooperation will contribute to peace and development in that region.
With Cristina Lee-Pisco