President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated in his last state of the nation address (SONA) that the alternative to his China policy is war, which he will not pursue.
Duterte said this Monday in his sixth and final SONA as he assured Filipinos that he will not give up the WPS to China despite indebtedness to President Xi Jinping, who is his “good friend”.
“We need to do more with our partners. We continue scaling our maritime domain awareness, defense capabilities. Yet, we will not close our doors on diplomacy… because that is how disputes are settled and never by force,” he said.
“Ito bang arbitral ruling… I’ve said it… I said that… what’s your problem in the arbitral ruling? America and some Filipinos. Brilliant Filipinos, I would say, keep on pushing for something which I really do not know. I made a speech in the UN, in that speech I laid down and bare… sabi ko, ano pa ang gusto ninyo? What will I do with a document that is not binding China because they were never a part of the arbitration,” Duterte added.
The arbitration order, according to Duterte, is now part of international law and beyond the power of passing, administrations to dilute, diminish, or abandon.
He said there was no arbitration at all as it was only the Philippine’s side that was heard.
Duterte said he does not want to insult people pushing him for something, like war, that is more than he can handle.
“Ano ang gusto nila, makipag-giyera doon. Do you want war against China? Well, I’ll tell you, even on the coast, [the] beach of Palawan, before you can take off, the missile of China would be there in about five or 10 minutes. It will be a massacre if I go and fight a war now,” he said.
President Duterte reminded critics that the Philippines is not yet a “competent and able enemy” of China.
He called those who continue to claim that he was helped by China in being the leader of the country “idiots” because he will never do it.
“Hindi ako tinulungan ng China. Nag-usap kami civilly but after [the] election. After election, I was a good friend of President Xi until now. When the pandemic struck, the first country I called for help was China,” Duterte said, adding he told Xi that the Philippines still has no vaccines at the time.
“Sa aming mga Bisaya, yong utang na loob, mabigat talaga yan. Hindi mo mabayaran ng kung ano… pero kung may utang na loob ako sayo, you can be assured that I will be your friend, a true friend and die for you,” he added.
Duterte said the country has no means to fight China as it has no weapons. “How can fight China? Do we have the weapons?”
The Philippines won its case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, on July 12, 2016, when the court declared as illegal Beijing’s supposedly historic claims over virtually the entire South China Sea, including the WPS.
However, China has consistently disregarded the 2016 PCA decision, claiming it was never part of the arbitration. The country, on the other hand, has sought a diplomatic resolution to the maritime conflict.