Duterte on Scarborough incident: It’s only barter
Update (10:15 p.m.)
President Rodrigo Duterte called as “barter” the incident where members of the Chinese Coast Guard were taking the catch of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal despite some saying that it was harassment.
“It was barter in exchange for the fish, but the problem is the valuation,” Duterte said during the 120th anniversary of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City on Monday.
He, however, said that in a barter trade, one does not have the “way” to know the exact value.
“You do not have a way of [assessing the value] in barter. It’s wishful thinking. Hindi tayo nagkakaintindihan dito. It was not an outright seizure,” he said.
Fishermen from Masinloc, Zambales who usually fish at Scarborough said members of the Chinese coast guard usually take their catch in exchange for noodles, cigarette, and water.
Chinese Ambassador Xi Jinping has also said that the incident was “some sort of barter trade, which have been going on for quite some time.”
Sought for comment, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters that it was not an “arm’s length” barter.
“Yun na nga malinaw naman na may problema sa valuation (It’s clear that there is a problem with valuation), so it is not an arm’s length barter. That’s what the President said,” Roque said.
“Well sinabi naman ni Presidente na kung barter ‘yun, hindi malinaw yung terms and conditions at tsaka yung valuation. Kasi kung barter ‘yun, napagkakasunduan ang halaga (The President explained that the terms and conditions were not clear. If it’s real barter, they would agree on someting),” he added.
Not outright seizure
Roque defended the President for saying that taking the catch of the Filipino fishermen was not an outright seizure.
“So yan naman ang sinabi niya ‘no. Kasi nga nakita rin natin doon sa video na may binigay din yung mga Tsino at sinasabi naman nung mga mangigisda na may natatangap din sila lalung-lalo na importante yung tubig. Huwag nating mamaliitin yung tubig kasi nauubusan sila ng tubig ‘no. So talagang pwede silang mamatay kung walang tubig (That’s what he really said because it is clear in the video that the Chinese slo gave something to the Filipino fishermen, including water. It is very important because lack of water can cause death),” he said.
A video was aired on GMA-7’s Reporter’s Notebook, which showed members of the China Coast Guard boarding the boats of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal to get their best catch.
In the same documentary, the Chinese asked for fish but the fishermen said they have not caught any.
PH, China should intervene
Roque said the Philippines government and China should intervene if Filipino fishermen want to barter goods with with the Chinese in the disputed waters.
“So kung magkakaroon ng barter dapat siguro e mas malinaw kung ano ‘yung mga pinagkasunduan ng partido at siguro kung gusto talaga nilang mag-barter e manghimasok na ang gobyerno ng Tsina at Pilipinas dahil hindi sila nagkakaintindihan gaya ng sinabi ng Presidente (If they want to do barter, the government of China and the Philippines should intervene so the two parties can understand each other),” he said.
No stop on protests vs China
Roque said the Philippines was not abandoning its protests against China over Beijing’s activities in the disputed sea, which include the alleged harassment of Filipino fishermen.
In his speech at the DFA anniversary, Duterte said the government has filed protests against China.
Roque alo reiterated that China has been informed of the plight of our fishermen.
“Lahat po yan ay pinabigay alam sa China. Well, sabi po ng China mag-iimbestiga sila at ang alam ko po ay nangangalampag din tayo kung ano na ang resulta ng imbestigasyon (China was informed of the issues. They said they would investigate the matter. We will follow up the result of this investigation),” he said.
Zhao earlier told reporters that China would discipline members of the Chinese Coast Guard if proven guilty of forcibly taking the catch of Filipino fisherment at Scarborough.
You can’t scare China
In his speech, Duterte said China “is no pushover” and that even the United States “has shown a little bit of apprehension” when dealing with China on the South China Sea dispute.
The President admitted that he needs China to fight terrorism in Mindanao.
“And in a long, sustained war [and] terrorism, we would need help. Me, personally, I do not think the Americans would be there during that critical [time,]” he said.
“Ang America, takot (America is scared). The American people are tired of fighting war after war,” he added.
Asked if this was the reason why President Duterte was not taking a strong stand against China, Roque said “no.”
“Ang sinusulong ng ating Presidente ay ‘yung pang-nasyonal na interes. Ang pang-nasyonal na interes ngayon ay makinabanang naman tayo dun sa bagong pag-unlad ng China after all kapitbahay naman natin yan (Our President is pushing out national interest. We will benefit from China’s progress because we are neighbors),” he said.
Roque also addressed criticisms that the President wants the Philippines to remain silent in exchange for Chinese deals.
“Wala po yan. Sa tingin ko naman sa pananalita ni Presidente, no one can say na mayroong nagpapatahimik kay Presidente (It’s not true. I think based from his words, no one can say that someone is trying to silence him),” he said.
In his speech, Duterte also hit his critics who chided his administration for its handling of the row with China.
“Itong South China Sea, anong gusto ninyo (What do you want)? What kind of pugnacious attitude would I have to adopt to convince the Chinese to get out?” he said.
Asked if the President was already fed up with the criticisms, Roque said he was only explaining the government’s position.
“Well, siyempre paulit-ulit kasi yung tanong na parang namimigay ng teritoryo pero ang posisyon nga niya wala tayong teritoryong binibigay (They keep repeating the questions and the insinuation that we are giving away the territory. Our postion is that we are not giving away anything),” he said.
“Wala namang ikabubuti kung makikisali tayo diyan sa hidwaan ng China at Estados Unidos. So ‘yun na nga, isulong natin ang pwede nating isulong at yung bilateral relations natin sa China hindi naman dapat itigil dahil gusto nating makialam sa hidwaan g dalawang bansang yan (It will not do us any good if we get involved in China’s conflict with the Unites States. So let us promote bilateral relations with China. We cannot stop that),” he added. /ac
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