Duterte hits former president Aquino on boundary disputes in WPS

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Photo taken after his speech at 31st Annual Convention of the Prosecutors' League of the Philippines at City State Asturias Hotel Palawan. Photo by Seved Borda III / Palawan Daily News
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President Rodrigo Duterte during his visit in Palawan on Thursday criticized the previous administration of former President Benigno Aquino III for not preventing the alleged construction actvities of the Chinese within the despited territory in South China Sea.

President Duterte was speaking to local government officials, barangay leaders and supporters from both provincial and city levels as well as from the different towns in Palawan during the PDP-Laban campaign sortie in the province.

Several islets and reefs within South China Sea also known as West Philippine Sea (WPS) are among the disputed territories by the Philippines and China.

He said that the construction activities by the Chinese observed more five years ago should have been put to halt long before it could become a developed military facility. When he assumed presidency, the construction in the disputed islet has been very visible and completed.

“Five years ago nakikita nila sa South China Sea na merong concrete activity, na parang bunkhouses. Si Noynoy (Aquino) alam nya yan. Ang America alam nya. Bakit hindi nila sinita na that is an open sea. Hanggang lumaki naging militart garrison sa panahon ko. In the first place there was a construction hindi nila pinuntahan. Ngayong panahon ko may runway na, meron ng armament. Itong sila (Associate Justice) Carpio want me to do something,” he said.

President Duterte said that when he and his cabinet secretaries visited China, they made known the country’s stake over the disputed islands in the South China Sea also known as West Philippine Sea, but China warned that it might result to misunderstanding of two countries.

“You know of you insist in your position there will be trouble,” President Duterte quoted Chinese officials’ position about the disputed territory.

He explained that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to cooperate with each other to peacefully and diplomatically resolve the territorial rift.

He however said that Pag-Asa Island is not among these disputed islands since it was already occupied by the country and inhabited by local residents in early 1970s. One of Palawan’s municipality of Kalayaan is in Pag-Asa Island.

Recently, the residents of Kalayaan town expressed alarm of the presence of Chinese vessels sighted around their island municipality.

Citing the reason that China is one of the countries major trade partners, pushing on the claims might jeopardize that of our two countries’ relationship.

“Kung ipapadala ko ang mga sundalo, there will be slaughter. Gusto ninyo magka-giyera? These guys are pushing me. Wala tayong missiles. Meron tayong mga armas but that’s not enough. Bakit tayo makipag-gyera na pwede naman tayong mag-usap?,” he explained.

He further said that during their talk with Chinese leaders he told them that Pag-asa Island belongs to our territory and the government will protect it.

“Ang Pag-Asa (Island) is ours. We’ve been there since 1974. Sabi ko do not touch Pag-Asa. These are words of advice, may mga sundalo sa Pag-Asa,” he warned.

He said that cooperating with China and fixing the problem in the right way will not escalate the tension on boundary disputes in WPS.

President Duterte assured that with barely few years left in his presidency, he need to work double time to fulfill his campaign promise.

“I am in a hurry because I have only few months left. I must act on para matupad ko iyong promise ko,” he said.

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