Presidential aspirant Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City said that if he becomes the President of the Philippines he is willing to ”shut up” about the West Philippine Sea territorial dispute with China if ever they offer to build us vital transportation facilities and other infrastructure in the Philippines.
Duterte said in a press conference in Palawan last Thursday that, he is also open for a joint exploration between the Philippines and China in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
Duterte said if China will ”build me a train around Mindanao, build me train from Manila to Bicol… build me a train going to Batangas, for the six years that I’ll be president, I’ll shut up.”
”Pareho kami ng China. They claim it, I am insisting it is ours, period. Hindi ako maniwala sabihin ng tribunal na: ‘O Philippines, ganito…’ No, no, no. To hell with you guys,” he said.
”I will tell China, that is ours. You are building structures in an area that is ours. If the tribunal would favor us, good, but if not, I would disagree.”
”If you want, joint exploration. Kung wala akong pera pang-equipment ko, just give me my part,” Duterte said.
Duterte, nonetheless, maintained his stance that the West Philippine Sea belongs to the Philippines. It would be futile to engage China in a shooting war since the Philippines cannot match the Asian giant’s firepower.
”I will not go to war because we will not win it. It will be a massacre. I will not waste the lives of Filipino soldiers and policemen. Ano ako, gago? Patay lahat iyan,” he said.
”I will not waste the lives of Filipinos. I will ask the Navy to bring me the nearest point in South China Sea that is tolerable to them and I will ride a jet ski. I’ll carry a flag and when I reach Spratlys, I will erect the Filipino flag. I will tell them (Chinese), suntukan o barilan?”
For Duterte, It maybe the biggest foreign policy controversy facing his presidential bets in the May 9 elections. His position on the matter contradicts the stand taken by the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
For the Aquino administration a multilateral approach in resolving the dispute is the best option while China prefers a bilateral talk. - Carl E.