By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte said that he may discuss the issue in the disputed South China Sea during his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week.
Duterte is set to meet with the Chinese leader this week during the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia 2018 held this week in Hainan, China.
According to Duterte, he is looking forward to meeting Xi again to discuss the full range of the Filipino-Chinese relationships.
“As friends and sovereign equals, we will review the progress of our efforts and chart ways to ensure prosperity for our nation and region,” he said.
“Make no mistake: there can be no progress without stability and security of Asia’s lands and waters. There continue to be threats from transnational crime, terrorism and violent extremism, and unresolved disputes. We will do our part as a responsible nation to address these threats into the region’s collective security,” he added.
However, Duterte said that he knows that many people are still concerned about the South China Sea dispute and that he may raise the issue if he feels there is a need to.
“Well, it depends. If I think there is a need for me to raise the issue and if we intrude now into the business of exploration and development, I might say my piece also on that matter,” he said.
“Whether any other plans, no. I am into the business. I am not going into a war. We can postpone that war 100 years from now. In the meantime, I need the resources of my country to make the people comfortable,” he added.
Last month, Duterte welcomed China’s proposal to conduct joint explorations in the disputed waters. Malacañang, later on, confirmed that there are ongoing talks between Filipino and Chinese firms on possible joint exploration in Service Contracts (SCs) 57 and 72.
Duterte decided to set aside the issue on the disputed waters in order to build a better relationship with China. With this, the President was slammed for supposedly giving into China.
But with all the talks in the South China Sea, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier appealed for the public to unite to address the issue on the disputed waters.
“The President has said that he will not surrender a single inch of Philippine territory to foreigners,” Roque earlier said.
According to Roque, Duterte’s critics are the only ones who want to protect the country’s territory but said that the President has to think of the consequences if the country were to antagonize China.
“We appeal to the critics, we have to be united on this issue. Please do not claim to have the monopoly of upholding the national interest,” he said.
“The Philippine President has been consistent that he will die for Philippine territory. But meanwhile, he will not sacrifice even a single life for an issue that can be resolved on the basis of friendly relations,” he added.