President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines cannot reclaim the West Philippine Sea or assert its rights without bloodshed.
“If we go there, really to find out and assert jurisdiction, it would be bloody. It will result in a violence that we cannot maybe win,” Duterte said in his public address on Monday.
He made the statement amid the row between China and the Philippines over the continued presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte said nothing will happen even if he goes to the West Philippine Sea or send government ships there.
“The issue of the West Philippine Sea remains to be a question forever until such time that we can take it back,” he said.
“Walang iba, gyera lang (There is no other way but war),” he added.
Duterte told China that he does not want a “quarrel” but he also warned them that not to extract oil or other resources in the disputed waters.
“I am addressing myself to the Chinese government, we want to remain friends, we want to share whatever it is.”
“I’m not so much interested now in fishing. I don’t think there’s enough fish really to quarrel about but when we start to mine, when we start to get whatever it is in the bowels of the China Sea, sa ating oil (such as oil), by that time, I will send my gray ships there,” the President said.
He assured the public that the government will act on the matter if that happens.
“Yan masiguro ninyo (You can be assured). ‘Pag kinuha na yung oil, kung anong mga nickel diyan (If they extract oil, nickel there), precious stones, that would be the time. That is the time that we should act on it,” Duterte said.