AFP would rather oust me than be sent to war with China, says Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday night that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would oust him if he were to send soldiers to fight China in the disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea.
He made the remark as China continued its military buildup in the disputed sea while critics slammed his government for its soft approach on the issue.
He said sending government troops to fight China in the West Philippine Sea would “lead into some kind of trouble.”
Besides, he said, there was no assurance the AFP would follow his orders if asked to risk the lives of troops over Manila’s maritime row with Beijing.
“They [AFP] would rather dispense [with] me than lose their soldiers. Do you think they will follow me?” Duterte said in a press briefing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 2 shortly after his arrival from a three-day official trip in South Korea.
The President also slammed experts, whom he said were only grandstanding.
“Are you being realistic or you are just indulging in a public display of brilliance?” he said.
Filipino maritime experts have urged Duterte to take a stronger stand against China’s aggresive militarization in the West Philippine Sea, including filing a diplomatic protest.
“It is easy to say those things if you are not the seated in power,” he said, adding that he was willing to allow these experts to run the country even for a month if the Constitution would allow it. /atm