By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte is insisting that the decision of the United Nations’ (UN’s) Arbitral Tribunal granting the Philippines exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (WPS) was handed during the time of President Benigno Aquino III.
Duterte made the statement as he slammed critics anew who claim that he has not done anything to address the issue on the disputed waters.
The President, in his speech in Talisay City, Negros Occidental urged the public to not believe that the decision of the Tribunal was handed during the beginning of his term in 2016.
“Do not believe in that shit that it was during my time that the arbitral ruling [on the West Philippine Sea] was handed down. Of course it was not,” Duterte said Sunday night.
“The fate of the started two months before or three months before bago ako pumasok (before I started my Presidency) Because it was already announced that there was the arbitration decision. Dumating lang ‘yung papel sa atin (I just received the papers), officially [when] it was handed down,” he added.
The ruling was handed July 12, 2016 or less than two weeks after Duterte took office. Duterte chosen to set aside the ruling for now to establish better relations with China but assured that he will raise it with the Asian giant before his term ends.
This was not the first time Duterte insisted that the ruling was made during the time of his predecessor. Duterte made at least four times this month alone.
Meanwhile, Duterte reiterated that it was only America who could have stopped China from making its reclamations in the disputed waters but the world superpower did not do anything.
“Sabi ko naman ang mga Amerikano impokrito eh (I told you Americans are hypocrites). When it was being started, the reclamation, there were already published satellites photos and everything in our own newspapers. And the US, sabi nga ni President Aquino (like what President Aquino said), and he is correct, for the few times that I listened to him, that only America could have stopped the reclamation,” he said.
“Pinarking sana niya ‘yung Seventh Fleet tapos sinabi niya (They should have parked the Seventh Fleet there and told China), ‘Why are you fucking in this country, in this place? It’s not supposed to be yours to build an artificial structure island or whatever,'” he added
“Bakit hindi niya pinuntahan doon (Why didn’t they go there)? And they allowed China to grow, build the garrison there, now put the canons and the missiles,” he continued.
The Seventh Fleet is a military formation of the United States Navy headquartered at US Fleet Activities Yokosuka in Japan, with some unites based in Japan and South Korea. It is part of the United States Pacific Fleet and has at least 60 ships, 300 aircraft, and 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel.
Meanwhile, Duterte reiterated that he cannot wage war against China as it deemed it would be like a suicide mission.
“I’m faced with the possibility of a barbaric war. Hindi ko naman kaya ito. Ipadala ko ang mga sundalo ko (I cannot do that–send my soldiers there). I will not embark on something, on a war or battle that I cannot win,” he said.
Recently, China announced that it has landed strategic bombers on an outpost in the South China Sea.
On Saturday, the President said that the Philippines and China do not need to go to war over the disputed West Philippine Sea when the two countries can share the resources found in the area.
“China has offered for a joint — someday we will talk about it. Di man ta kinahanglan mag-away. Bahin ta (We don’t have to fight. We can divide this in a), joint development, joint exploration,” Duterte said.