By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte said he will not allow any country to stockpile any weapons in Palawan to avoid the country being caught in a crossfire in case a war breaks out.
Duterte made the statement as he joined the launch of Palawan’s first ‘Subaraw Biodiversity Festival’ in Puerto Princesa Saturday evening.
In his speech, Duterte mentioned that Palawan is a critical island as it will be one of the first places affected when a war in the South China Sea breaks out.
“Palawan is critical, very critical. Kaya — kasi ‘pag nagputukan ‘yang China Sea na ‘yan, ang lahat ng bala na-misfire pupunta dito. Totoo (Because when something happens in the South China Sea, all misfired bullets will go here. That’s true),” he said.
“[Palawan] Island is very critical and I think as a matter of foreign policy, I will not allow any country to stockpile any kind of weapon dito sa inyo (here),” he added.
Duterte said it would be better for the Philippines to stay from trouble as much as possible as the country cannot afford to go to war with any country.
“I’m putting on notice everybody, the United States, China, Australia, ‘yung interesado (those interested), that the Philippines is not ready for a war,” he said.
“We cannot afford it and we cannot manage it. Magpalayo tayo diyan sa gulo na ‘yan. Wala man tayong kasali (Let’s stay away from trouble and not involve ourselves with that),” he added.
Duterte then recalled how he tried to insist to China that he will dig oil in disputed waters during one of the first bilateral meetings with the Asian giant. He said Chinese President Xi Jinping told him that they should resolve things peacefully.
“‘Yes, of course,’ sabi ko (I said), ‘I cannot afford to go to war with you. It would be a massacre,'” Duterte recalled telling Xi.
“I would not commit any of my soldiers or policemen to an exercise that would only — end up in a slaughter,” he added.