MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte would rather cancel his scheduled bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping if he will not be allowed to raise the country’s arbitral victory in the West Philippine Sea.
In a speech in Romblon on Wednesday, Duterte said there was someone who told him that the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague should be left out of the agenda of the bilateral talks.
“Sabi nila hindi pag-usapan, sabi ko ‘no.’ If I’m not allowed as a President of a sovereign nation to talk whatever I want to talk about then let us rather not talk altogether. ‘Wag na,” Duterte said.
“Don’t control my mouth because that is a gift from God,” he added. “That’s why I’m going to China and the first thing that I will bring out before them is the arbitral ruling. Ganito ‘yan e so we do not go to war.”
Duterte said he would push for a peaceful resolution on the territorial dispute to avoid further tension.
“Hindi naman talaga tayo pwedeng makipagyera sa kanila. I will just feed my Army and the military and police in the mouths of hell mamatay lahat ‘yan,” he added. “Sabihin ko sa kanila, I have always been saying we don’t have to go to war, we don’t have to go to trouble and let us resolve this controversy peacefully.”
Duterte said he will push for a 60-40 sharing arrangement in the proposed joint oil exploration in the South China Sea with Philippines having the bigger share.
“Whether you like it or not, whether you are happy or not, we have to talk about the arbitral ruling and what we get if there is a start in the exploration and in the extraction of whatever it is in the bowels of the earth,” he added.
“The proposal of 60-40 in our favor will be a good start,” Duterte said. “I hope that it will graduate into something like how do we solve the arbitral ruling peacefully. Let us talk about what is there, you have to share with us.”
The Hague, in July 2016, recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
China refused to recognize the ruling and has built artificial islands there, prohibited Filipino fishermen from fishing and interfered in petroleum exploration in the disputed waters./PN