by Genalyn D. Kabiling
The United States had a chance to nip in the bud the territorial conflict in the South China Sea years ago but has “done nothing” about it, according to President Duterte.
The President has sharply rebuked the United States for its inaction when China started its reclamation works in the disputed waters a few years ago, accusing America of waiting for the conflict to ripen into an international issue.
Duterte is resenting US pressure to take a stand against China for its failure to take a “decisive action” to resolve the matter in the past.
“Why in hell ang Amerika siya lang naman talaga ang pwedeng kumasa doon. Bakit sabihin niya ngayon magpunta ang Navy ko? (Why in hell did America not move when it is the only one who can stand against China? Why did it want my Navy to go there?) It will mean a massacre for my soldiers. I will not do it,” Duterte told a gathering of lawyers in Pasay City Thursday night.
“Why did you not, at the first instance pinuntahan ninyo ‘yung mga Instik doon nagta-trabaho (confront the Chinese working there), building that structures there?” he said.
The President recalled that the Philippines was “warned by everybody” about China’s construction works in disputed territory five years ago. At the time, the United States, Australia, and other nations were conducting over flights in the area.
He asked why the US, which is bound by a defense treaty to protect the Philippines did not confront China to stop building on parts of the country’s territory.
“Bakit hindi mo pinuntahan doon? Bakit hindi mo sinita? Bakit hindi ka nagpadala ng limang aircraft carrier at kinasahan mo? (Why did you not go there? Why did you not reprimand them? Why did you not send five aircraft carriers?) And you had to wait for the problem to ripen into an international issue involving this time so many countries Vietnam, lahat na,” he said in his rebuke of the US.
“You could have cut the problem in the bud had you have taken indecisive action,” he added.
At present, the President said the Philippines cannot challenge China’s presence in the disputed area because it was no match with the Chinese force.
He warned against “miscalculation” of moves that might worsen the conflict in the South China Sea. “It is one single solitary shot. It could lead to an explosion and it could lead into war; and it will be a slaughter,” he noted.
“So we go back to the days where it could have been solved or settled but why did America done nothing about it? Wala. Tapos ngayon tayo ang ipasubo ng… They want us to be assertive, for what reason?” he added.
Duterte also downplayed his earlier campaign promise to ride a jet ski to the disputed territory and plant a Philippine flag to assert the country’s claim. He said his comment was part of the campaign rhetoric when he ran for president.