By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos
Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella yesterday clarified that President Duterte is just trying to maintain the friendly relations he has established with China.
He stressed this after the President hinted that he is considering selling the disputed islands in the South China Sea to the Asian giant if the country gets “very rich.”
“And maybe when we get rich, very rich I can sell the land to you for – inyo na (it’s yours), when the spectacle of a war is gone,” he said in his pre-departure speech in Davao City.
Abella, in a press conference in Riyadh Tuesday morning, said it was just Duterte’s lighthearted way to say to China that “we’re friends.”
He said he thinks Duterte’s recent remarks signify the positive end result of the Philippines’ friendship and negotiations with China.
“Basically, he was underlining that. If you notice the context, it says when there is no more trouble, when we’re rich enough, in the sense that’s really, I think in the far future, that would be the end result of our friendship and negotiations with China,” he said.
Duterte had earlier maintained that he cannot bring up the issue on the South China Sea to China at the moment as he first have to improve ties with the country.
He, however, assured that the time will come sometime during his term.
Meanwhile, China has expressed willingness to draft a framework for a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea with senior officials of the ASEAN member-states.
Chinese and Filipino senior officials are set to meet in China on May to discuss drafting the said framework in order to properly handle the maritime dispute.