Duterte dares US to 'fire first shot' in disputed waters
President Rodrigo Duterte has challenged the United States to “fire the first shot” in the South China Sea if it wants to deal with the territorial disputes there.
In a speech in Alangalang, Leyte on Friday, Duterte said it was reported in the newspaper seven years ago that something was brewing in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea because of what appeared as construction but America just ignored it.
“Now that it’s already there, all the guns are there, all the missiles are mounted, they want us to enforce our fisheries law and to protect the environment there. I will ask them, are we in possession of China Sea? Because if we are not, it’s all… You are --- out of your rockers,” he said.
“Okay. Let America declare the war. Let them assemble all their armaments there in South China Sea. Fire the first shot and I’ll be glad to do the next. Since there is US-RP pact let us honor it. Do you want trouble? Okay, let’s do it,” he said.
Duterte said the US could have prevented China in building structures in Spratlys as he echoed the statement of former President Benigno Aquino III that the US was the only country, which could confront China.
“America could have done it earlier but did not. I am surprised why. Now he wants us to tickle China and when they burst--- the one who will sacrifice, who will be bombed is Palawan because it’s facing the China Sea,” he said.
The President reiterated that enforcing the 2016 Hague ruling right now would only lead to war.
“How do I enforce the arbitral ruling? I’ll go there (South China Sea) bringing the (Philippine) Navy and I insist and say, 'Hey, you guys, you go out.' And China, 'No, what do you want?' So there will be war,” said Duterte.
The President said he could not order the military to go to war. But in jest, he said he would be happy to lead former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario if they would want to go to war with China.
Morales, Carpio and Del Rosario have been critical of the Duterte administration's apparent soft stance on China in relation to the territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
Duterte expressed hope that the Chinese government would not “overdo” things in the South China Sea.
“I hope that China would not overdo things also because there is always America pushing us, egging us,” he said.
Duterte also told his critics, who were saying that he could be impeached for allegedly not protecting the country's sovereign rights, not to force him to go to war because he has something else in his hand.
“Do not force my hand into it. Do not force me to declare war because I have something else. I have a card which I can throw anytime. And you won't like it. But at least it will give a sense of order and maybe...,” he said recalling his oath to protect the people and preserve the country. Ella Dionisio/DMS