Duterte won't withdraw ships from West PH Sea

Published May 14, 2021, 2:35 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

“Our friendship will end here.”

President Duterte has warned China that he will not withdraw Philippine ships from the West Philippine Sea even if it costs him his life.

President Duterte delivers a public address on May 13, 2021 (Malacañang)

Duterte made the statement after facing a backlash following his remark that his promise to ride a jet ski and plant the Philippine flag in the Spratlys during the 2016 elections was just a joke.

In his pre-recorded public address aired Friday, Duterte told China that the two Philippine ships roving around Kalayaan Islands and the Mischief Reed will not be called back.

“I’d like to put notice sa China. May dalawang barko ako diyan (I’d like to put China on notice. I have two ships there)… I am not ready to withdraw,” he said.

“We have a stand here and I want to state it here and now again: Yung mga barko natin nandyan ngayon sa Pag-asa (That our ships there in the Pag-asa Island)– we will not move an inch backward,” he added.

According to the President, he respects China’s position on the matter but they should respect the Philippines’ stand as well.

“I do not want a quarrel, I do not want trouble. I respect your position and you respect mine. But we will not go to war,” he said.

He likewise reiterated that the Philippines has a debt of gratitude to China.

“Inuulit ko, may utang ng loob kami. Malaki. Buhay ang tinulong nila sa amin (I’ll say it again: We owe them. A lot. It was about lives),” he said.

“Sana maintindihan niyo. Kung ‘di niyo maiintindihan, magkakaroon talaga ng problema (I hope you understand. If not, then we will have a problem),” he added.

On Monday, President Duterte reiterated that there was nothing wrong with him thanking China.

“It’s never wrong to admit a debt of gratitude but it would be wrong to use it as an excuse to maybe–sabi ko (I said) there will be no compromise. Alam ng China ‘yan (China knows that),” he said.

Duterte said he will not set aside the country’s claim in the West Philippine Sea just because the Philippines accepted coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines from China.

“It does not mean na tanggapin natin ang bakuna tapos sabihin ko kalimutan natin ang claim sa West Philippine Sea (that we accepted their vaccines so we should forget about our claim in the West Philippine Sea). It was never like that. The world does not operate like that,” he said.

“Miski bahaan tayo ng vaccine. Gagamitin ko pa rin pero sabihin ko hindi ito ang kabayaran [sa West Philippine Sea] (Even if they flood us with vaccines. I will use them but I tell you, that is not payment for the West Philippine Sea),” he added.