Duterte hopes China to honor promise not to construct structures in Scarborough, Pag-asa
President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed hope that China will honor its promise not to build structures in Scarborough Shoal and Pag-asa Island in the South China Sea.
Duterte said the South China Sea issue was one of the subjects that he discussed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his two-day visit to Tokyo.
"China has put it on record, that near the Pag-asa, where we also have our bay there, the Scarborough Islands, China has committed to us not to build anything there and I hope that they would honor that commitment to us," he said in a press conference following his arrival from Tokyo at the Davao airport.
"I hope and I pray. I do not want to create something here which is not good for us. For all us," he added.
China had built structures in seven reefs and shoals in the disputed South China Sea despite oppositions from other claimant countries, like the Philippines.
Asked if he was holding on China's promise, Duterte said, "Yes. Well, we, 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."
"Anything less than that, you lost the respect of… They probably would not have the time to --- or anybody inviting us for a talk and about, discuss giving aid and assistance to the country," he added.
Japan has been supporting the July 2016 decision of the United Nations arbitral tribunal declaring as invalid China's sovereign claim in almost the entire South China Sea.
But when Duterte assumed the presidency in June last year, he decided to put at the back burner the decision of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration and pursue a friendly stance with China.
Japan, which has its own maritime row with China in East China Sea, has said that rule of law should prevail insofar as the South China Sea issue is concerned. Celerina Monte/DMS