By Argyll Geducos
President Duterte on Wednesday said that China can’t stop him from raising the Arbitral ruling that favoured the Philippines when he meets late this month Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying nobody can stop him from talking about whatever he wants since he is the president of a sovereign nation.
Duterte made the statement a week before his scheduled working visit to Beijing, China for a bilateral meeting with President Xi where he vowed to raise The Hague ruling because he thought it was finally time to do it.
In his speech in Tablas Island, Romblon, Duterte said the Arbitral ruling handed down in 2016 would be the first thing he will bring up with Xi.
He said he will ask the Chinese President about how the two countries would peacefully resolve the issue.
“I will ask them, ‘As what you said, and what we agreed upon, we talk to resolve this problem peacefully. Now tell me, how do we start to resolve the problem peacefully? There has got to be something’,” he said Wednesday evening.
Duterte then said that China cannot stop him from bringing it up since he is the president of the Philippines.
“Sabi nila hindi pag-usapan. Sabi ko (They said we will not talk about it. I said), ‘No’,” he said.
“If I’m not allowed as a president of a sovereign nation to talk whatever I want to talk about then let us not rather talk altogether. ‘Wag na (Let’s not). Do not control my mouth because that is a gift from God,” he added.
“So whether you like it or not, it will make you happy or not, angry or otherwise, I’m sorry. But we have to talk about the Arbitral ruling,” he continued.
The President, however, expressed hope that the joint oil and gas exploration with China will fuel the journey of the two countries to peacefully resolve the West Philippine Sea dispute.
“Then what we get, if there is a start in the exploration and extraction of whatever are there is in the bowels of the earth, the proposal of 60-40 in our favor, would be a good start,” Duterte said.
“I hope that it would graduate into something like toward how do we solve the Arbitral ruling peacefully,” he added.
Duterte then said that he will not settle for anything less, saying the Philippines has to benefit from anything that will be taken out of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“If we cannot go to war because we cannot simply afford it; we cannot afford violence, trouble because it is not the norm of the day just to kill people just for this disagreement, then let us talk about what is there, you have to share with us,” he said.
“Any other adventures or expeditions in the marine oceans in our exclusive economic zones will have a direct bearing in that Arbitral ruling. Hindi ako papayag na TY ‘yan. (I will not allow that we will get nothing),” he added.
At the start of his term, President Duterte set aside the Arbitral ruling to build better relations with China. He, however, vowed to raise it before he steps down.