Duterte: Philippines cannot win if war with China

President Duterte affirmed that the Philippines did not give up its sovereignty in the East Sea, but emphasized that the country cannot win if it goes to war with China.

During a visit to the Philippine Coast Guard on June 12, President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned the Russia-Ukraine conflict, saying such a situation was the reason negotiations with China continued.

“I can’t really find a good reason for war to break out. We and China will continue to have dialogue,” President Duterte said.

He stressed that the Filipino people would suffer if a war broke out between the Philippines and China over the South China Sea dispute.

“We cannot fight China. We cannot win. We will lose and the people will suffer. The country of the Philippines will be in dire straits. I am praying that this matter is the problem. will be resolved by negotiation. There is no need to waste lives,” he said.

Mr. Duterte added that he hopes the Coast Guard will let him go to the eastern part of the South China Sea, which the Philippines considers its exclusive economic zone, to assert its sovereignty over the sea.

President Rodrigo Duterte at a meeting in Manila September 2021.  Photo: AFP.

President Rodrigo Duterte at a meeting in Manila September 2021. Image: AFP.

China and the Philippines have overlapping claims to Scarborough Shoal, an atoll consisting of many reefs and floating rocks in the South China Sea, about 230 km from the main Philippine island of Luzon and about 1,000 km from the southeast coast of China. . Until 2012, the Philippines was the controlling party to this feature.

By mid-June 2012, US officials acting as mediators had helped craft an agreement under which both sides would withdraw from the disputed area. The Philippines withdrew its ships from Scarborough Shoal on the grounds of storm avoidance on June 15, 2012, ending 10 weeks of confrontation, but China did not comply with the deadline set by the agreement, still maintaining maritime surveillance ships in the area. area.

The US did not take practical action to force China to comply with the agreement, while the Philippine ship could not return to Scarborough Shoal due to being overwhelmed by China in number. This is considered a big mistake of the Philippines, causing them to lose Scarborough Shoal to China.

Beijing is said to have repeatedly sought to reclamation and reclamation of Scarborough Shoal since taking control of this feature. However, both the US and the Philippines have given drastic responses and strong deterrence messages, making it impossible for China to realize its intentions.

In 2016, an international court rejected China’s vast sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, a shipping route through which about $3 trillion a year trades. President Duterte ignored the court’s ruling, pursuing cooperation with China in return for promises of loans, aid and investment of billions of dollars, but much of which has yet to materialize.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said last month it had summoned officials at the Chinese embassy in Manila to protest the harassment of the RV Legend, which was “conducting a maritime scientific study” in the South China Sea. The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said that the RV Legend was tailed by a Chinese coast guard ship at close range in the northwest region of Luzon island.

Huyen Le (Theo GMA News)

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