PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday reiterated that the Philippines cannot assert its rights in the disputed West Philippine Sea because it would spark a war that the country “can never win.”
“I cannot fight China. It would be a war which I can never win [...] I do not have the might,” Duterte told the Filipino community in Russia during his official visit. “We are not ready to go to war. We cannot afford it and we will not win it. And why would I sacrifice the lives?”
“They have a missile that can reach Manila in seven minutes. Would I be crazy to go to war with that kind of armaments arrayed against my country? Mahirap na mag-assert ka, kasi kung bubukuhin ka, insultuhin ka, away talaga ‘yan.”
In a landmark victory in July 2016, the Philippines won an arbitral ruling against China that invalidated Beijing’s excessive claims over nearly the entire South China Sea, including the part Manila calls as the West Philippine Sea.
However, Malacañang said the victory is “unenforceable.”
“Kinukulit ako pati itong Amerikano. Diyan ako asar. E, gusto nila pumunta ako doon to assert, sabi ko, ‘alam mo, ‘pag ginawa ko ‘yan, giyera ‘yan.’ [...] One of these days, if it poses danger, sabihin ko talaga sila na ‘umalis kayo.’’