Duterte to critics: It's easy to say to confront China
Confronting China over its activities, including militarization in the South China Sea, is easier said than done, President Rodrigo Duterte told his critics.
In a media interview at the airport following his arrival Tuesday night from South Korea, Duterte also defended the Department of Foreign Affairs on how it is handling the territorial dispute with China.
"DFA does not on its own do a policy. It's the Office of the President. And so they just implement. The sole organ of the foreign policy of this country lies with the Office of the President," he said.
The DFA has been criticized for not disclosing to the public everytime it files a diplomatic protest against China.
Duterte said there are "many scholars and bright" in the Philippines.
"It's easy to postulate a theory...with the population of 105 million, you can easily say that there are about a million who'd want something more than just the dramatics. Are they capable? Are you being realistic or you are just indulging in a public display of brilliance?," he said.
Duterte said critics could say easily what the government should do because they are not the one leading the country.
"If they want, they take my position for one month and let us see. I’m willing if there is an opportunity in law or the Constitution, I’d be willing to let anybody run this country and solve all the things that you have been having qualms," he said.
If he would order the soldiers and even the police to go to war with China and they would all die, Duterte said people would surely execute him.
"If I do that, I either I am inviting trouble within my country or the military and police will oust me. They are not prepared to go into suicide. You would rather dispense me rather than lose their soldiers unnecessarily and needlessly," he said.
"I’ll have some trouble under states and eventually, the one who are now yakking will take advantage of that and gain power. Now how many times did the military intervene in this country? Are you sure that this time they will give it back to the civilians? Just like the other sad experiences which they could suffer," Duterte added.
He said soldiers and policemen would only follow him as long as he would not ask for something impossible.
As for the Chinese bomber planes that landed in the South China Sea, Duterte said it happened outside the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
"They are complaining about the bombers of --- it... That airstrip is in Woody Island. It is far beyond our territorial and our economic zone," he said.
Duterte again wondered why the United States did not stop China when it started occupying and reclaiming some areas in the disputed waters.
"Now that they (Chinese) have the missile, you are now shouting. And America is prodding me to be vocal about it. In the first place, you are the only superpower at that time, or even now. Why did you not send the Seventh Fleet? Why did you not park there and tell the Chinese, 'stop it because you are not allowed to build artificial islands in international waters'," he added.
China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea, while the Philippines has been claiming only those areas within its EEZ. Other claimants are Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan. Celerina Monte/DMS