PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said he remains neutral with China and the United States but stressed that he has never abandoned his relationship with the US.

He made the statement during a meeting with members of his party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) on Tuesday as he explained to its members his stance on the West Philippine Sea issue.

"That is what the PDP stands for, it stands for our country that is really free from intervention, kaya ako nag neutral so I made friends with China and I never abandoned our relationship with America. Wala naman akong sinabing masakit sa kanila (That is what the PDP stands for, it stands for our country that is really free from intervention, that is why I became neutral so I made friends with China and I never abandoned our relationship with America. I never spoke ill of them)."

Duterte's statement came in light of the upcoming delivery of over 3 million US-donated coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines to the Philippines.

In June, Duterte, who criticized the US government over its supposed failure to donate vaccines to the Philippines and deliver on its promises of giving Philippines military aid, extended the country's Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US government which would have expired in August after he agreed to hold further discussions and review of the VFA.

Meanwhile, Duterte told members of his party, the Chinese vessels are in the West Philippine Sea not because they want to take the Philippines' territory but because they also have a claim over the disputed waters.

"The West Philippine Sea, they are there not because they say that they want to add to their territory. They are there because they say that it's theirs - and they claim ownership. We also claim it but we lost the Scarborough Shoal."

Duterte recounted that China offered the Philippines help and donated vaccines to the country.

"China, they offered to help. If the aid is coming, good, if not OK lang rin sa akin (that's OK for me) because we do not make friends in anticipation of what they can give to us."

"That is stupid. We make friends because we just like to be friends. If your friend is kind to you, then be thankful," Duterte said.

Duterte repeatedly thanked the Chinese government for donating 1 million Sinovac vaccine doses to the Philippines.

He also repeatedly said he will not go to war against the Philippines' "good friend" China amid incursions in the West Philippine Sea because the Philippines owes the country a huge debt of gratitude for its vaccine donations.