- President hoping China will stay true to vow to halt construction activities in West PH Sea
- He again encouraged talks rather than armed conflict to resolve the dispute
- He also said PH will bring up its claim in West PH Sea in due time
MANILA, Philippines – Will China really stop its incursions in the West Philippine Sea? President Rodrigo Duterte is banking on it.
Fresh from his trip to Japan which is also engaged in a maritime dispute with the Asian giant, the Chief Executive said he remains hopeful that Beijing would not renege on its commitment not to build any more facilities in the West Philippine Sea.
“China has put it on record that near the Pag-asa Island and the Scarborough…China has committed to us not to build anything there. I hope that they would honor that commitment. I really hope and pray,” the Manila Times quoted him as saying.
Duterte also again encouraged talks rather than armed conflict in settling the dispute with China.
“Other countries are also claiming islands because each country has an [exclusive economic zone under the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas). There are overlapping claims, and we can always resolve it by just talking,” he said. “I cannot imagine myself being involved in a violent solution or almost a suicide action. There is no space for violence as an option, we should continue to talk.”
As for criticism he has not been assertive enough with the country’s arbitration victory against China in The Hague, Duterte said he will bring up the ruling in due time.
“I hope we will reach that stage. And China is a good listener. Okay?” he said. “Once I commit to you as a President of a sovereign state, what comes out of my mouth is what it is. And it’s always a commitment with honor.”