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Duterte calls out China again for building on PH-claimed reefs

/ 05:33 AM April 23, 2019

MANILA, Philipines — President Rodrigo Duterte has called out China again for building structures on Philippine-claimed reefs in the South China Sea but said he would stick to “talking” with Chinese leaders to avoid a military confrontation.

“We lost the Scarborough Shoal during the standoff in 2012. Over the years China has kept building structures while the case was being heard in the arbitral court,” he said during a campaign rally of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan on Sunday in Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte.

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He blamed the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III for not stopping the Chinese.

“Why didn’t the Philippine government go there at the site with its ship and ask China, ‘What are you doing here? You are not supposed to build artificial islands in international seas,’” he said.

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The President said he would negotiate with China and not resort to force to assert the country’s claims in the disputed waterway.

‘We would be destroyed’

“They want me to visit it. It’s fine, it can be done just to show off. But we would all be destroyed and my soldiers and policemen would be massacred. We can’t defeat [the Chinese]. So let’s stick to just talking, unless you want me to say, ‘Okay, I’ll attack China. Who’s with me?’” he said.

The United States, he said, also did nothing to stop the Chinese.

Aquino and former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario should explain why they lost Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal to China in 2012, he said.

“Aquino and Del Rosario are hounding me about the arbitral ruling. But if you go back in time to when it all began, this started in Scarborough” Mr. Duterte said, recalling the incident where both China and the Philippines sent ships to the shoal. —JULIE M. AURELIO

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TAGS: Maritime Dispute, Rodrigo Duterte, South China Sea, West Philippine Sea
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