In unexpected turn of event, President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at China and this is apparently drawing a line between his strong ties with them and the oil reservoir in the Philippines.
Duterte warned China not to take any moves to explore oil deposits in the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea and told to Chinese President Xi Jinping that the Philippines would not insist to Beijing to recognize the decision of the UN arbitral tribunal. But he expects China to respect the Philippines’ rights over the Spratly Islands and other contested areas in the area.
This happened when President’s economic managers, headed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, left yesterday for China to hold meetings with their Chinese counterparts regarding Build, Build, Build projects that would be financed through official development assistance from the Chinese government.
“I told to President Xi Jinping that we are also a claimant in the disputed territories. You know we won the case, but certainly we will not insist on recovering what we won because it would only result in a war, and it will be a bloody one and I know that. But please take note that one day during my term, I will make the needed assertion”, the President said.
“What then will I assert? Oil, of course. If China do it solo, that would be chaotic. Because if you strike oil now, you will siphon off the sea?” he said.
There are other claimants in the West Philippine Sea and these are Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei.
The President admitted that the Philippines cannot match the military super power of China because the Armed Forces of the Philippines is ill-equipped. But he said is ready to deploy the soldiers and policemen that would be ready to defend Philippine sovereignty even if they are just armed with bolos and knives.
“It’s going to be difficult if you dig uranium there. That is where we will start having a conflict. That’s when you see (Undersecretary Eduardo) Año bring bolos and knives,” he said in closing.
Año is a former military officer and now heads the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police is under his supervision.