By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte said he could declare war with China over the dispute in the West Philippine Sea if his noisy critics would be placed on the front line of the battle.
The President insisted that he would not sacrifice the lives of government troops in a battle that he cannot win amid the military buildup of China in the disputed territory.
“I can declare war on China tonight. At sino ang magpunta? Sundalo ko? Pulis ako? Mamatay lang lahat ‘yan [Who will go? My soldiers? My policemen? They will all be killed]. Why will I go to war for a battle that I cannot win? Para akong gago [That will make me look stupid],” Duterte said in an interview with reporters in Malacanang.
“So sino ‘yung mga gustong pumunta doon ngayon. Okay man ako [So who wants to go there? I’m okay with it] We will declare war (with) China provided ‘yung mga ugok, ‘yung maingay mauna sila. Nandiyan ako sa likod nila. Pagdating doon iwanan ko sila. Bahala kayo, eh gusto makipagaway [those fools, the noisy ones will go ahead. I’ll stay behind their back. Once there, I’ll leave them. It’s up to you, you want to fight anyway],” he said.
The President made the remarks in response to criticisms from some groups about his inaction over the continued militarization of China in South China Sea. China recently reportedly installed anti-ship missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on some of its artificial islands in the South China Sea. The Palace earlier expressed concern over the development but remained hopeful the missiles were not directed at the country.
The President maintained that war was not an option, saying he was “100 percent” certain the country would lose to China.
He acknowledged though he was aware about China’s missile installation as well as military facilities built on the disputed territory.
“There is an airport, there are missiles there installed. There are military equipment already in place. So what’s the point of questioning whether the planes land there or not? There’s an airstrip,” he said.
“Hindi naman maglanding sa bato. Maganda airstrip nila [They won’t land on rocks. They have a beautiful airstrip],” he added.
The President blamed anew United States for doing nothing to stop China when it started its reclamation works several years ago. “Ngayon, walang ginawa ang Amerika so that the Chinese made a garrison out of those rocks there,” he said.
He also slammed his predecessor former President Benigno Aquino III’s inaction over China’s militarization during his term. He said Aquino did not even ask the US assistance to stop China then.
“That arbitration came during the time of Aquino, they file it. There was sufficient time for him to stop. Siya ‘yung nag-demanda [He filed the case],” he said, referring to the arbitration case filed by the Aquino government against China’s claims in the West Philippine Sea.
“Bakit hindi sila pumunta doon? Bakit hintayin ninyo ako ngayon? [Why didn’t they go there before? Why wait for me now?]. Na kung magka-giyera, maubos naman ang mga sundalo ko pati pulis [And if there will be war, I’ll run out of soldiers and policemen] Of course, mamatayan sila but we will lose the battle. I am 100 percent about that,” he added.