By Genalyn Kabiling
The Philippines is a “friend” of China and does not deserve “nasty words” over the South China Sea dispute, President Duterte declared Friday.
Amid reports China warned a Philippine military aircraft to stay away from their artificial islands, the President said there was no need for such harsh rhetoric since the Philippines would not go to war with China over the disputed territory anyway.
“Just because we are friends, huwag mo na kaming– ‘Filipinos. Go out there or that is your responsibility if anything will happen.’ You know very well that we will not attack anybody there. And we are a claimant of the group of islands,” he said during the HugpongngPagbabago convention in Davao City.
“I told you we are not prepared to go to war with you, so why do you have to say those nasty words? There’s no need for that. We are your friend,” he said.
Duterte also maintained that no one could create artificial islands and then claim the sea and airspace.
“You cannot create islands there and claim the sea. That is not an island. Artificial islands are not – are prohibited in the middle sea. Iyanngaang rule diyan [That’s the rule there],” he said.
Last Tuesday, President Duterte called on China to “temper” its behavior in the South China amid reports it has tried to warn ships and aircraft against getting too close to their reclaimed islands.
Duterte said it was “wrong” for a nation to create artificial islands and claim ownership of the airspace above the territory.
“The right of innocent passage is guaranteed. It does not need any permission to sail through the open seas. And if it’s nearby a territorial water, you guarantee what you would call the right of innocent passage,” he said.
“So I hope that China would temper its – at least its behavior. I do not want to quarrel with China,” he said.