Duterte vows to assert ruling on disputed sea even if it angers Xi Jinping
MANILA, Philippines — Nobody can stop President Rodrigo Duterte from asserting the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague even it angers Chinese President Xi Jinping.
This was Duterte’s vow Wednesday, speaking before participants and guests of a solar power project inauguration in Romblon and days ahead of his scheduled fifth trip to China on August 28.
“The first thing I will bring up before [Xi Jinping] there is the arbitral ruling,” he said, insisting that nobody could control what he would say.
“If I’m not allowed as a President of a sovereign nation to talk whatever I want to talk about, then let us not rather talk altogether. No. Do not control my mouth because that is a gift from God,” he added.
The President recalled how Xi told him not to raise the landmark PCA decision, which invalidated China’s nine-dash line or expansive claims in the South China Sea.
“There has got to be something. You cannot just talk air and they said let’s not talk [about it], I said ‘no’,” he said.
He reiterated that the Philippines would “not go to war” against China, but that he would insist that the PCA ruling be discussed during his trip to China later this month
“But I will tell them, ‘You’ve always been saying we do not have to go to war, we do not have to go to trouble, and let us resolve this controversy peacefully’,” he said.
“If I told you that before my term ends I will have to talk to the Chinese about it. So I will ask them. ‘As what you said, and what we agreed upon, we talk to resolve this problem peacefully. Now tell me, how do we start to resolve the problem peacefully?’,” he added.
Duterte earlier said Xi warned him of trouble during their first bilateral meeting in October 2016 if the Philippines would press its claim in the South China Sea.
“So whether you like it or not, it will make you happy or not, angry or otherwise, I’m sorry. But we have to talk about the arbitral ruling,” he said, apparently addressing his remark to Beijing.
He also said he wanted the proposed joint oil exploration between Manila and Beijing in the disputed sea to progress.
“Then what we get, if there is a start in the exploration and extraction of whatever there is in the bowels of the earth, the proposal of 60-40 in our favor, would be a good start. I hope that it would graduate into something like towards how do we solve the arbitral ruling peacefully,” he said.
“You know, if you study the sentence very very carefully, if we cannot go to war because we cannot simply afford it; we cannot afford violence, trouble because it is not the norm of the day just to kill people just for this disagreement, then let us talk about what is there, you have to share with us,” he added.
He said he would not allow that China benefits from the resources in the disputed sea at the expense of the Philippines.
“Any other adventures or expeditions in the marine oceans in our exclusive economic zones will have a direct bearing in that arbitral ruling. Hindi ako papayag na TY ‘yan (I will not allow a ‘Thank You’). Hindi naman ako makipag-away (But I won’t pick a fight),” he said. /kga
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