MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte has appealed to the Chinese people to treat the Filipinos as their brothers by allowing the Filipino fishermen to fish in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
President Duterte made the appeal in his speech during Monday’s National Heroes’ Day celebration attended by the members of the diplomatic corps, including Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
“It might be that the Chinese people find a place in their heart for the Filipino people, for after all, there is a Chinese blood in me. So I hope that you treat us as brothers and not your enemies and take note of the plight of our citizens,” he said.
The President has expressed concerns over the plight of the Filipino fishermen who are being barred by China from fishing within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines in the WPS.
“Maybe, just maybe, if we continue and treat each others as brothers and understand specially the plight of the fishermen, that’s why they are there because they are poor,” he said.
For now, President Duterte told the Chinese ambassador that he will never use the Philippines’ victory in the Permanent Court of Arbitration which, he said, it might lead to the suspension of talks with China.
“I will never bring the matter because it might lead to the suspension of the talks and that is not good, Mr. Ambassador. So, I proposed that we have a soft landing everywhere,” the President said.
While expressing his willingness to hold bilateral talks without the arbitral judgment, President Duterte said he would eventually discuss the international arbitral court ruling with China.
“I will not use the arbitral judgment now, but I would one day sit in front of your representative or you and then I will lay there my position and I would say that this paper, I cannot go out of the four corners of this document and that is the arbitral judgment,” the President said.
President Duterte said he would not go to war with China.
“If I’m not ready for war, then peace is the only way,” he said.
The President drew laughter from the crowd when he asked in jest the Chinese ambassador to “maybe give us time to build our forces also. You have so much superiority.”