THE Philippine ships in the West Philippine Sea will not move an inch backward, President Rodrigo Duterte said following reported incursions by nearly 300 Chinese militia vessels in the disputed territory.
“Yung mga barko natin nandiyan ngayon sa Pag-asa at saan pa, we will not move an inch backward (Our vessels are now there in Pag-asa and in other areas, we will not move an inch backward),” Duterte said in his public address aired on May 14.
Despite his pronouncement, Duterte also reiterated that he does not want a quarrel with China.
“Ayaw kong makipag-away nga sa China. Ayaw kong talaga. Inuulit ko may utang na loob kami, malaki (I don’t want to quarrel with China. I really don’t want to. I repeat, we owe them a big debt of gratitude).”
Maritime authorities on Wednesday reported that there were 287 Chinese maritime militia vessels scattered in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday ordered the filing of another diplomatic protest against Beijing over the recent incident.