MANILA

Duterte hits critics for pushing him to go to war with China

JAPAN. President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech at the special session of the International Conference on "The Future of Asia" Friday, May 31, 2019, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP)

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday, June 26, that his critics are really wanting to get him into trouble by going to war with China, following the June 9 allision at Recto (Reed) Bank between Filipino and Chinese fishing boats.

In a speech delivered before his security aides, the President maintained that the Philippines cannot afford a war with China, despite Manila's 2016 decisive victory in South China Sea case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands.

Duterte, after drawing flak for his soft stance on Recto Bank incident, lectured "stupid" Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and opposition senators that there was an existing agreement between Manila and Beijing for the two countries to fish in the disputed waters.

He thus said that he could not prohibit China from conducting fishing activities in the South China Sea, including the waters within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

"Alam mo Justice Carpio, napaka-istupido mo... Pati itong mga senador sa oposisyon, alam mo, gusto talaga nila ng gulo. Kasi sabi ko, nag-tanong sila: 'Will you allow Chinese to fish?' Of course. Iyan ang pinag-usapan namin noon kaya tayo nag-uusap eh. And that's why we were allowed to fish again. It was a mutual agreement. See, bigayan tayo," Duterte said.

(You know, Justice Carpio, you are very stupid... And the opposition senators, they really want war. That's because when I was asked, "Will you allow Chinese to fish," I responded, "Of course." That's the deal, that's why we're talking. And that's why we were allowed to fish again. It was a mutual agreement, to allow each other to fish in the disputed waters.)

"Ngayon, sabi nila, 'You have to ban China. I-prohibit mo.' Kung i-prohibit ko, how do I impose my desire? Takot nga ang America. Ayaw nga mag-confront tapos ako pa ang i-pusta nila? Gusto talaga nilang isubo ako. So gusto nila pumunta ako doon, dalhin ko 'yung mga [war ship]," he added.

(Now, they said, "You have to ban China. Prohibit them." If I prohibit them, how do I impose my desire? America is even afraid of China. They do not want to confront China, and yet, critics want me to do the confrontation? They are really using me as a bait. They want me to go there and send war ships.)

On Tuesday, June 25, Carpio said allowing China to fish in the Philippines's EEZ would violate the 1987 Constitution.

Section 2, Article 12 of the 1987 Constitution provides that, "The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use of enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens."

Also on Tuesday, opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros opposed the President's decision to allow Chinese nationals within the Philippine waters on the basis of existing "friendship" between Manila and Beijing.

Carpio and Hontiveros's statements came at the heels of the ramming and abandonment of sinking Filipino fishing boat F/B Gem-Ver 1 by Chinese trawler Yuemaobinyu 42212 on June 9 at Recto Bank, which is located within the Philippines' EEZ.

Twenty-two Filipino fishermen aboard the sunken boat were deserted at sea by the Chinese fishers and were later rescued by the crew of a passing Vietnamese boat.

Insisting that the Recto Bank incident was a "mere maritime accident," Duterte said he could not act "violently" on the issue, as he noted that the Chinese boat just "sideswiped" the Filipino fishing vessel.

"You know, pagka-bunggo, iyang bangka to bangka, that is a mere maritime accident or incident. You do not react violently. As a matter of fact, halos kami ngayon have agreed na side swiped. Hindi talaga binunggo. Kung binunggo, nasa ilalim na 'yun," he said.

(You know, the allision of the two boats, that is a mere maritime accident or incident. You do not react violently. As a matter of fact, we have agreed now that it's just side swiped. It was unintentional to hit the Filipino boat. If that's intentionally hit, it would totally sink.)

The President then said that it is "not the time" to go to war with China, stressing he does not want to put the Filipino people at a disadvantage.

"Gusto nila i-prohibit ko. Why will I go there and prohibit them? Now, the only way to stop them is talagang gamitan ko ng ngipin iyan (is to use a tooth for a tooth policy)," he said.

"We cannot drive them away, because they have insisted na kanila (that they own it)... Kung maubos tayong lahat (You want us dead)? Sabi nila (They said), Duterte is not protecting the interests of the Filipino. G******* s***. You want me to put the lives of 110 million Filipinos [at risk] by going into trouble?" Duterte added. (SunStar Philippines)


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