Duterte says he won’t waste ‘best relations’ of PH with China
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has again voiced out his reluctance to upset China amid the continuing discussions over the latter’s incursions into the West Philippine Sea.
“We have the best of relations now. We will not waste that,” Duterte said in a taped speech that aired Monday.
This was his reaction to the remark of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile that the Philippines should “avoid irritating China.”
“We must never give China a reason to attack our territory, that is the bottom line,” Enrile, who was present at the briefing with the President, said.
Enrile, who was also a former defense secretary, urged Duterte to keep a “friendly” approach in resolving issues over the maritime dispute.
“We need a friendly approach there — not a hard, assertive, and aggressive approach,” Enrile said, speaking partly in Filipino.
“If we can’t reach an understanding with China, the interests of our countrymen, our economy, and even our security will be dragged into this issue,” he went on.
Duterte, who has been criticized for his warm stance with China, has repeatedly asserted that the Philippines would not go to war with China over the maritime dispute.
But last week, the President said the Philippines would not withdraw its assets from the West Philippine Sea while still insisting he had no intention of quarreling with China because the Philippines owes it a “debt of gratitude.”
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