THE Philippines could not prevent China if it will build a radar station in Panatag Shoal unless it wants to go to war with a superpower, President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday.
"Well, we cannot stop China from doing [its] thing. Hindi nga napara ng Amerikano," the President told reporters before leaving for Myanmar at the Davao City airport.
"Or what do you want me to do...declare war against China?" he said.
The President said he could declare war, but "we'll all lose, all our military and policemen tomorrow, and we are a destroyed nation. And we cannot assert even a single sentence of any provision that we signed."
In July 2016, the Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines' claim against China's nine-dash line, which covers the South China Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal, locally known as Panatag or Bajo de Masinloc.
China was planning to construct structures in the disputed South China Sea, reportedly including Panatag Shoal.
Duterte recalled what he told Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Beijing in October last year that he would not invoke the arbitral ruling now, but there would be a time that he would raise it during his term.
"When? When they shall start to tinker with entitlements," he said.
Duterte even defended China for sending vessels in the South China Sea.
"Iyong right of passage niya, anybody can. Eh ang Amerikano araw-araw dumadaan diyan eh. Bakit mag-discriminate ako sa China? We are not war against China, I am not war against America. And yet American ships come and go. Why should I not allow the Russians? They are also my friends. China is also our friend," he said.
"And now, we are now improving on the economy because of the help of China. Bakit ka naman mag-walang hiya para magdaan lang? And so what if they stop there?" he said.
The President said those criticizing China, whose vessels were also seen in Benham Rise, a Philippine territory east of Luzon, were just engaged in "nitpicking."
He said Beijing acknowledged that Benham Rise is part of the Philippine territory.
"They admit that it is the territory–within the territory of the Philippines. That does not satisfy you? Ano pang gusto mo, paluhurin mo ‘yung tao? Iyon, ‘pag ka --- nitpicking. Naghahanap lang nang makalkal," he said. (SDR/SunStar Philippines)
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