PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he won’t “bargain” with China on the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) when he visits Beijing this week.
Duterte also said he won’t make any “hard impositions” on China as regards the July 12 international arbitration ruling that sided with the Philippines on the sea dispute and invalidated China’s claims.
“We will stick to our claim. We do not bargain anything. We will continue to insist what is ours. The tribunal international decision will be taken up but there will be no hard impositions,” he told reporters at the Davao International Airport before departing for a two-nation trip.
The President will fly to China on October 18 after a visit to Brunei. Duterte arrived in the Brunei capital of Bandar Seri Begawan last night.
Duterte said: “I cannot give what is not mine, and which I am not empowered to do by any stretch of imagination.”
He reiterated that the Philippines only had two options as regards China: “We go to trouble or we talk.”
In July, the Philippines won its case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. The tribunal rejected China’s “nine-dash” claim on the entire South China Sea, the harassment of Filipino fishermen, and reclamation projects.
It ruled that Filipino fishermen enjoy fishing rights at Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) and that the Spratly Islands, as well as the Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and Recto (Reed) Bank, are all within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
Duterte also said Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Supreme Court was correct, when the magistrate said conceding Panatag Shoal to China would be an impeachable offense.
“He is correct. It’s an impeachable offense. I don’t fight with that statement … I said we cannot barter what is not ours, [what]belongs to the Filipino people. I cannot be the sole authorized agent, for that is not allowed under the constitution,” the President said.
On October 20, Duterte will hold a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He is also expected to meet separately with National People’s Congress Chairman Zhang Dejiang and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
On Friday, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua told reporters Duterte’s visit to China could lead to an influx of Chinese investments as well as increased cooperation in investments and agriculture.
The visit will not be about the disputed South China Sea, Zhao said.