GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – If Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gets elected president in the May 2016 polls, he would pursue one-on-one talks with China to assert the Philippines’ rights.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Philippine Jaycees national convention on Saturday, January 16, Duterte said that the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) dispute is a threat to national security and must be resolved peacefully.
“Sabihin ko sa (I will tell) China, just stop your construction,” Duterte said. “Be courteous about this and we will just talk. We cannot go into war. We cannot afford it.”
Beijing has repeatedly stressed the need for bilateral negotiations, rejecting the involvement of any third party. It also refused to join the arbitration case filed by Manila before an international tribunal in January 2013. (READ: China to PH: Friends avoid lawsuits)