President Rodrigo Duterte assured that he is finding ways about our maritime dispute but reiterated on Saturday that insisting on our claims against China in the West Philippine Sea means trouble that our country cannot afford.
But in his speech at the ceremonial opening of the Alegia, Cebu oilfield, Duterte said he is doing something about the maritime dispute, and asked Cebuanos not to believe in claims that he is doing nothing about it.
“You know, if you insist on what you want with the Chinese, especially with new friends, there will be trouble,” Duterte said.
He said he told President Xi Jinping during their meeting in China that the Philippines will go to the West Philippine Sea and dig oil there.
But according to Duterte, Xi’s response was: “We have just become friends and we have just begun to get to know each other. Let’s not ruin the relationship that we have.”
“You know how Chinese talk when they say [that]... Alam mo, ’pag pinilit mo, there will be trouble,” said Duterte, adding “what will we arm ourselves with if there is war?”
“That is why when (Senator Antonio) Trillanes and the opposition said that we insist on the issue ... why would I give away the lives of my soldiers and policemen in a battle which I cannot win?”
Those in the opposition have been urging Duterte to protest against China, using an international arbitral tribunal’s award invalidating Beijing’s excessive claims in the South China Sea.
Duterte, however, said that when he became president, China has always been conciliatory. “A lot of projects have already started to come in.”
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon urged the Senate to take a stand on the invasion of Philippine territories amid China’s military activities in South China Sea.
“We should assert our sovereignty, not by waging a war against China...I condemn the continuous violation of the arbitration award, of the international rules,” Drilon said in a radio interview.
The senator expressed alarm over the reported landing of Chinese bombers planes on an island in the South China Sea.
“This is a challenge to the new leadership: we must assert the Senate’s role in foreign relations,” Drilon said. Majority Leader Senator Tito Sotto is set to take the helm of Senate President Koko Pimentel.
The minority leader said the new Senate leadership should be able to assert the Senate’s role as “a foreign policy partner of the President.”