By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte expressed that setting aside the 2016 The Hague Ruling on the South China Sea could mean more economic gains for the Philippines.
Duterte made the statement days after his working visit to Beijing, China where Duterte raised with Chinese President Xi Jinping the Philippines’ claims to the West Philippine Sea based on the Arbitral Ruling.
In an interview in Malacañang, Duterte said that Xi promised that the Philippines would get 60 percent of whatever would be found in the disputed waters in a joint exploration.
“Set aside your claim. Then allow everybody connected with the Chinese companies. They want to explore and if there is something,” Duterte said Tuesday evening.
“Sabi nila (They said), “We would be gracious enough to give you 60 percent.” Forty lang ang kanila (They will only get 40). That is the promise of Xi Jinping,” he added.
The President said that this would include the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) since it was part of the Hague Ruling.
“Kasi ‘yang (The) exclusive economic zone is part of the Arbitral Ruling which we will ignore to come up with an economic activity,” Duterte said.
However, Duterte said that this does not mean that the Philippines will be conceding its claim in the disputed waters.
“No. You cannot — you cannot abandon the [ruling]… Nandiyan ‘yan. Pero (It’s there already. But) how to — how to claim back that property because of the Arbitral Ruling — the only way to retake is to declare war. Go there and sink all their ships,” he said.
Last week, President Duterte admitted that he was not satisfied with Xi’s response when he raised the 2016 Arbitral Ruling during their bilateral meeting in Beijing late August. However, he said he did not insist on it because he knew Xi had a lot in mind, particularly the protests in Hong Kong.
The President even jested that Xi may just slap him if he will keep on going to China to talk about The Hague Ruling.
Duterte then said that he will ask the Filipino people about what the next move would be because going to war with China was still not an option. If it was, he said he needed the approval of Congress.
“The option is, kung atin, kunin natin. Kunin natin (if it’s ours, we go get it), but are we ready to go to war? I declare war? I will go to Congress. I will ask their permission. I will go there. I will ask that they assemble jointly and allow me five minutes to talk about it,” he said last week.
“I don’t know if there was any member of Congress present there when Xi Jinping said ‘We will not budge.’ So what’s the next? Your question is as good as mine. Ano ang gawin natin (What should we do)? What is the next step? Seize the property? By what means? On bended knees? Ay nako (My goodness),” he added.