‘Duterte aware of Chinese mis­siles in Spratlys’

The Philippine Star - - NEWS - By CHRISTINA MEN­DEZ

Pres­i­dent Duterte is aware of the pres­ence of Chinese mis­siles on the Spratly is­lands in the South China Sea but there is no point in wag­ing a war against Bei­jing, Mala­cañang in­sisted yes­ter­day.

Duterte noted that China had built an airstrip and other mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions in the area, which is be­ing ques­tioned by Viet­nam.

“There is an air­port. There are busi­ness there in­stalled. There are mil­i­tary equip­ment al­ready in place. So what’s the point of ques­tion­ing whether the planes there land or not. There’s an airstrip,” he said.

Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Philip­pines would not be join­ing Viet­nam’s call on Bei­jing to re­move its mis­siles in the South China Sea.

Roque said Foreign Af­fairs Sec­re­tary Alan Peter Cayetano also brought the is­sue be­fore the Philip­pine-China bi­lat­eral con­sul­ta­tion com­mit­tee in Feb­ru­ary when the two coun­tries agreed to con­tinue ex­er­cis­ing self-re­straint in the con­duct of ac­tiv­i­ties in the dis­puted wa­ters.

Roque said Philip­pine and Chinese rep­re­sen­ta­tives en­gaged in a “more open, frank, can­did, frontal dis­cus­sion,” which he de­scribed as a stronger move than a diplo­matic protest.

Last Wed­nes­day, Duterte was asked about his views on the de­ploy­ment by China of cruise mis­siles in Kag­itin­gan (Fiery Cross) Reef, Zamora (Subi) Reef and Pan­gani­ban (Mis­chief) Reef over the past 30 days.

“Why will I go to war for a bat­tle that I can­not win? Para akong gago. And of course I said, we have to take into ac­count, but it would – I would take a longer time to do that. Pero kung… Busy ako ngayon eh.”

Duterte re­it­er­ated that he could not raise hell against China nor ask them to re­move the struc­tures in the dis­puted ar­eas since the Philip­pines has not enough ca­pa­bil­ity to fight Bei­jing.

He said he could not sac­ri­fice the lives of Filipino sol­diers for a fu­tile ex­er­cise where the coun­try will lose.

Duterte again blamed the Aquino ad­min­is­tra­tion for not rais­ing a con­cern when the Chinese started recla­ma­tion efforts in the area.

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