PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte insisted that the Philippines is not giving up its rights to the West Philippine Sea amid recent reports of China’s missile deployment and militarization in the disputed sea.
President Duterte acknowledged that the West Philippine Sea has been “eaten slowly” by the expansive claims of China.
“I have nothing against China but China claimed the entire ocean of China Sea,” he said in a speech on Tuesday on board BRP Davao del Sur in Casiguran Bay, Aurora to send off 50 Filipino scientists to the Philippine Rise, formerly Benham Rise.
The President said China has “claimed entire ownership, proprietary in nature” of the South China Sea.
“When China claimed the entire ocean as theirs, eh wala akong magawa, wala tayong magawa eh ‘yan ang gusto niya (there is nothing I can do, there is nothing we can do since that is what they want),” he said.
He then shifted the blame to his predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino III.
“From the time the arbitration award was handed down to the time that he was nearing his end, there was sufficient time for him to act and do something,” he said.
But contrary to President Duterte’s claim, the United Nation’s arbitral ruling was only awarded on July 12, 2016, days after he assumed the presidency.
While China’s reclamation started during the past administrations, he admitted that Beijing’s island-building was in full swing during his term.