PUERTO PRINCESA CITY —President Duterte, during his visit in Palawan on Thursday, has drawn a line against Chinese incursion into the West Philippine Sea and warned Beijing not to touch Pag-asa (Thitu) Island, the main island feature in the country’s claim and the seat of the local government of Kalayaan.
“Let us be friends but do not touch Pag-asa, otherwise things would be different. This is not a warning, this is just a word of advise to my friends,” Duterte told a crowd of local politicians and supporters at the Puerto Princesa City Coliseum Thursday night.
Earlier, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it has monitored a surge in the number of military vessels circling Pag-asa Island this year.
In a report last March 29, over 275 Chinese ships have circled Pag-asa since January.
Duterte believed that the incident on Pag-asa Island “has something to do with the greater game of geopolitics. And it is not directed to us.”
“No, the Pag-asa Island belongs to us. Of course China would never do that. I assure you. Unless China wants a war with us. Hindi ako papayag kung pati yung Pag-asa i-occupy nila (I wouldn’t allow it if they occupy even Pag-asa),” he said Thursday.
“I assure you, if they kill or arrest people there who are Filipinos, then that would be the time that we will have to decide on what to do,” the President said.
Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua, claimed that Chinese vessels near the island were not armed.
Duterte reiterated that the Philippines’ military was no match against China and that it would be a suicide mission to send his fleet.
“These guys are pushing me to press the button. Hindi ko kaya, wala man tayong missiles (I can’t do that, we don’t have missiles),” the President said. “It will result in a slaughter and destruction of our country.”
President Duterte also ranted about the military supply deal with US, “Nag-order ako. Sabi ng America we cannot give it to Duterte unless he does not use it against his citizens. Napakabobo.”
(I ordered. America said we cannot give it to Duterte unless he does not use it against his citizens. Stupid.)
Asked how he would deal with reports from the military’s Western Command regarding the presence of 275 Chinese vessels spotted in the West Philippine Sea from January to March this year, the President said the government has no choice but to find a “compromise” with China.
“I will not plead or beg. But I’m just telling you, lay off Pag-asa because I have soldiers there at ‘pag ‘yan ang ginalaw niyo, ibang storya na yan. Sabihan ko mga sundalo ko prepare for suicide missions.”
(I have soldiers there and if you touch them, that’s a different story. I will tell my soldiers to prepare for suicide missions.)
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