Duterte: Why ques­tion China’s WPS ac­tions?

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - By Christine O. Avendaño and Julie M. Aure­lio @Team_In­quirer

Pres­i­dent Duterte on Thurs­day said there was no use ques­tion­ing why he had al­lowed China to land planes and in­stall mis­siles on ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands claimed by the Philip­pines in the South China Sea.

Ex­plain­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s stand not to “go to war” with China, Mr. Duterte told re­porters he would dis­cuss with them geopo­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties and “why I al­low things just to stay” on the con­tested reefs.

He was asked what he thought of re­ports that China had landed mil­i­tary trans­ports and fight­ers in the Philip­pine-claimed reefs in the Spratlys.

‘Why fight with them’

“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 [Chi­nese] planes there land or not? There’s an airstrip. They would not land on rocks. They have a good airstrip,” the Presi- dent told re­porters.

“You can­not let them leave. Why fight with them?” he said.

To crit­ics who wanted him to “go to war with China,” he told them to go to the dis­puted ar­eas. He said he was 100 per­cent sure that the coun­try would lose any bat­tle with China.

“We will de­clare war against China, pro­vided that those noisy should go first. I will be there be­hind them. But when we get there, I will leave them be­hind. It’s up to them. They are the ones who want to fight,” the Pres­i­dent said.

But Mala­cañang in­sisted that the Philip­pines had not kept mu­mon China’s mil­i­tary buildup in the West Philip­pine Sea—the part of the of South China Sea within the coun­try’s 370-kilo­me­ter ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone.

Bi­lat­eral meet­ing

Pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son Harry Roque said the Philip­pines al­ready ex­pressed con­cern over China’s re­cent ac­tiv­i­ties in the dis­puted wa­ters in a bi­lat­eral meet­ing held ear­lier this year.

Quot­ing For­eign Sec­re­tary Alan Peter Cayetano, Roque said the Philip­pines made use of the bi­lat­eral com­mu­ni­ca­tion mech­a­nism on the South China Sea to con­vey its take on re­cent de­vel­op­ments.

“They talked about prob­lems in the South China Sea. They dis­cussed the installations of arms and air­ports in those is­lands. Th­ese were tack­led in the bi­lat­eral meet­ing,” he said.

Asked if the Philip­pines filed a diplo­matic protest or used the bi­lat­eral meet­ing to air its con­cerns, Roque said in a text mes­sage: “It was tack­led and protests were filed. Both.”

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