RESOLVING the conflict on West Philippine Sea will not mean going to war, presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte said in his first press conference after the May 9 elections at past midnight of May 16.
Duterte met with the Chinese ambassador later in the evening of May 16, while the Israel and Japanese consuls were also in town to meet him.
Asked if he will accept military planes that the Japan Government is reported to be giving, he said he will.
Duterte, however, said, “I can have all the warships in my camp but still war is not an option as of now.”
Especially with regards the territorial dispute in West Philippine Sea, he said, “The fact that the Philippine, my country, Palawan will be the battleground, I will not waste the resources and the lives of the soldiers.”
But Duterte said that does not mean that he will give up the disputed territory.
The Chinese ambassador knows this stance, he added.
“I have talked to them on several occasions that they must understand that I would insist that Spratly thing is out. That they are there illegally, whether they want to believe it or not, that is not my worry. Any talks that we will have will have that predicate that we are claiming the stake for my country,” he added.
When asked if he will form military alliances with any country, he said, he will abide by the pact signed by the Philippines a long time ago that has allied itself with the West, primarily the United States.
“When conditions are not ready for war, why are you going to war?” he asked.
But he challenged the US to declare whether it is putting its might behind the Philippines with regards the dispute.
“I am asking point blank America, are you with us or are you not with us? Ngayon kung magyera kami susugod ako, would you be at my back to support me or baka sabihin mo nalang you went to war on your own,” he said.
“Publicly, I’m asking it now, Are you with us on this? Suppose if I decide to go to war, can I count on you?”
In anything, he said, he will insist on the welfare of the country and its people and nothing else.
“That we want to be independent, that we want to raise the economic standards of the country, that I want my countrymen to at least change a little bit to what they are to what they should be for the desired change. Ganun lang yan its always for the welfare of my country,” he said when asked what is the message he is sending to the ambassadors who are making a beeline to Davao City.