MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte wanted to have the results of Philippine and Chinese authorities’ investigations before issuing a statement on the Reed Bank incident.
In his speech during the 121st anniversary of the Philippine Navy at the Naval Base Heracleo Alano in Cavite City on Monday, Duterte said it was his choice not to speak on the issue first until an investigation was made.
“It’s a maritime incident. It is best investigated and I will not issue a statement now because there is no investigation and there is no result. Then the only thing that we can do is to wait and give the other party the right to be heard,” Duterte said.
“Importante ‘yan e. O China, marami ka mang binigay, ano ba dito ang totoo? Tapos ang nangyari ganito, then let us sort…ano ang ma-sort natin diyan,” he added.
Duterte appealed to the public not to aggravate the situation, which he described as an ordinary maritime incident.
“‘Yang nangyari diyan sa banggaan, that is a maritime incident. ‘Wag kayong maniwala diyan sa mga politiko na bobo, gusto papuntahin ‘yung Navy,” Duterte said. “You do not send gray ships there. Banggaan lang ng bangka ‘yan.”
“With all ‘yung galit and one national official even urging (to send) the gray ships, warships doon sa China Sea. Alam mo gusto ko ‘yan, kung ako lang gusto ko ng action but I am not in my boyhood age anymore,” he added.
“I have a duty, that is a burden sometimes more than I carry – I can almost cry,” the President said. “If we have to die, we have to die in the correct way and to die with dignity hindi ‘yan basta bangga-bangga ka lang diyan.”
A Chinese vessel allegedly rammed and abandoned an anchored Filipino fishing boat with 22 fishermen on board near Reed Bank in the disputed West Philippine Sea on June 9.
The Chinese embassy in Manila denied the abandonment, saying the Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen “but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats.” /PN