Duterte: China just wants to be friends with us
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday China just wants to be friends with the Philippines as it never asked for any territory.
Duterte's statement came amid the presence of over 200 Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island, which is part of Palawan province.
According to military's Western Command, Chinese militia men were on board the vessels.
"You know Red China or China, the communist, just wants to be friends with us," Duterte said in a speech during the campaign rally of the senatorial bets of ruling PDP-Laban in Malabon City.
He said China gave the Philippines weapons and ammunition.
"Up to now, they never asked anything. They did not ask for territory," Duterte said.
The Philippines and China have been engaged in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea, including those within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
Duterte reiterated that the Philippines could not afford to go to war with China.
"If I go to war, the Navy will be wiped out in a matter of minutes. And if I go to war with China, in seven minutes, their missile will reach Manila. Why would I engage in a fight? Why would I allow my policemen and soldiers to be wiped out?" he said. Celerina Monte/DMS