Don't count on United States to help in West PH Sea dispute — Duterte

Published April 29, 2021, 7:46 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Has President Duterte lost faith in the United States as a reliable partner?

President Rodrigo Duterte (Malacañang)

The President has bared a grudge against the United States and declared the Filipino nation should no longer count on its oldest ally to help amid the country’s simmering dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.

According to the President, United States had a chance to come to the country’s aid during the past maritime conflict with China but did nothing.

Duterte made the latest statement after the country’s call for the withdrawal of the Chinese vessels from the Julian Felipe Reef, located within the country’s waters, has been ignored by Beijing. Manila has filed diplomatic protests over the continued swarming and threatening presence of these Chinese boats.

“I’ve read that China said, ‘umalis kayo. Sabihin ko ngayon, huwag kayong umalis. Period. Que se joda kung tulungan tayo ng Amerika o hindi. Huwag na tayong umasa sa kanila. Hindi ‘yan kakasa sa atin (I’d say now, don’t leave, period, regardless if American helps us or not. Don’t count on them. They won’t come to our aid),” the President said in a televised address Wednesday, April 28.

Duterte is certain that the United States would not risk a nuclear war over the sea dispute despite an existing defense pact. The Philippines and the United States are bound by a mutual defense treaty signed in 1951 that commits both countries to defend each other in case of an external armed attack.

“A nuclear war na sasabog itong mundo, kakasa ang Amerika? Hindi (A nuclear in this part of the world, and America will pull its guns? No),” Duterte said.

Duterte, who has refused to go to war with China over the dispute, also claimed that the United States was all talk about its supposed willingness to help the country.

“Ako, sabihin ko sa China, you know China, we can always call the Americans. But in so many instances, puro salita lang that we stand by you. That would have been the moment to show to the world that they were with us by sending their superior ships,” he said.

In his latest “Talk to the People,” the President mentioned anew the alleged inaction of the United States during the country’s standoff with China over Panatag Shoal back in 2012. At the time, the country removed its ships from the shoal after a supposed US intervention but China did not pull out its vessels and effectively took control of Panatag.

Duterte resented that America promised to help the country then but had done nothing. He recalled that America did not send its fleet of ships and tell China to leave the area when the country was asserting ownership over Panatag.

“Nagkaroon ng standoff kasi pinapaalis tayo, pinapaalis natin sila. Ngayon na medyo nagkagulo, takot ang mundo na magkaupakan, itong Amerika na sabi nila na dedepensahan nila tayo, eh bakit hindi sila pumunta doon at sinabi nila ‘sa Pilipinas man ‘to’? Kaya kami pati gumagamit nitong mga tubig na ito. Eh di kayo ang umalis. Bakit hindi nagpadala? Bakit hindi nila tinawag ang Seventh Fleet magpunta doon? (There was a standoff because we were being asked to leave and we were asking them to leave. Now there was a conflict, and the world feared a brewing war, so America told us that it will defend us. So why didn’t the US go there and assert the Philippine owned the area, that we use these waters, so China must leave. Why didn’t they send their Seventh Fleet?” Duterte said.

Duterte said the country needed America then but its ally did not pull through.

“Bakit noon kailangan na natin ang Amerikano, bakit walang barko ng Amerikano pumunta doon para tumulong sa ating Coast Guard? (We needed the Americans then but why didn’t the Americans send ships to help our Coast Guard?),” he asked.

Earlier, the Palace raised doubts that the United States will help the Philippines in case of a full-blow conflict in the West Philippine Sea. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque argued that the US did not budge when the country lost control of Mischief Reef and Panatag Shoal years ago.

In contrast, the President did not criticize China for its latest action in the West Philippine Sea during his address Wednesday night.

Instead, the President maintained that he would not go to war with China over the territorial conflict, insisting he considered China a “good friend.” He said the country owed a huge debt of gratitude to China especially for the coronavirus vaccines donated to Filipinos.

 
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