Duterte firm on putting
facilities in disputed islands, says PHL will remain friendly to China
By Lilian C. Mellejor
DAVAO CITY, April 10 (PNA) - President Rodrigo R. Duterte is firm on
putting structures, including mounting the Philippine flag, in the West
Philippine Sea, but emphasized the "Philippines will maintain good relations
with the People’s Republic of China."
The President also stressed he will claim Philippine ownership over Benham
“China can relax. We are friends. We will not go to war with you. We’re just
trying to maintain the balance of the geopolitical situation there (West
Philippine Sea),” President Duterte said.
While he extended his hands of friendship to China, the President also
called on the Chinese government to “kindly take a deep look at the
situation there to avoid the situation where everybody is grabbing every
land and islet in the disputed islands."
In a press briefing Monday before he left for an official visit to the
Middle East, Duterte revealed he had been hearing plans to put up structures
and missile facilities in the West Philippine Sea, which the Chinese
government calls as the South China Sea."I will not allow that to happen. So
I said occupy and claim it as ours,” he said.
“So for the information of China, we will not place any weapons there. We
are just there to claim the islands because that is really ours,” Duterte
He ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to build structures
there "to signify to all that it is the Philippines' exclusive property."
“We do not mean harm to China. We are friends as a matter of fact. And maybe
when we get rich, very rich, I can sell the land to you for --- inyo na
(it’s yours). When the spectacle of a war is gone, nothing is dangerous to
the Philippines,” he said.
Duterte said that with the Philippine flag installed in the West Philippine
Sea, any exploration in the area needs clearance from the Philippine
government. Upon his return, Duterte said he will be issuing an executive
order renaming Benham Rise as “The Philippine Ridge” or “The Philippine
Also known as Benham Plateau, this 13-million- hectare seismically active
undersea region is located east of Luzon, and is 35 meters underwater at its
shallowest point off the provinces of Aurora and Isabela. It is said to be
wider than Luzon, Samar and Leyte combined. (PNA)