Duterte: War with China is like committing suicide

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Duterte: War with China is like committing suicide
Duterte said the military and police would defy him if he asks them to go to war over the maritime row.
Presidential Communications Photo

MANILA, Philippines — Security forces would grab power and take over the government if ordered to go to war with China over the South China Sea dispute, President Duterte said yesterday. 

Duterte said the military and police would defy him if he asks them to go to war over the maritime row.

Doing so would be like committing “suicide,” he said. 

“They are not prepared to go into a suicide. You would rather dispense of me rather than lose their soldiers unnecessarily and needlessly. If I tell the military and the police, ‘go there, commit suicide,’ do you think they will follow me?” the President told reporters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 late Tuesday.

“If I were the general, and you order me to go there, commit suicide with my troops, I will tell you ‘f*** you. Why do I have to do that?” he added. 

Duterte said he would end up losing the presidency and being executed if he allows policemen and soldiers to die in a war that the Philippines cannot win. 

“Can I rely on anybody’s help? If all of my soldiers die there and all of the policemen to assist them, the Philippines is disgraced. Who will be liable? I. The people will execute me right at the Luneta...If I do that, I am inviting trouble within my country or the military and police will oust me,” he added. 

Duterte said there is no assurance that the security forces would return the power to civilians once they take over the government. 

“How many times did the military intervene in this country? Are you sure that this time they will give it back to the civilians?” he said. 

“There’s a lesson to be learned, every coup d’état or every change of radical ways of removing an official of government. Are you sure the military will comply if it means a massacre right there on the beach of Palawan?” 

Duterte remains passive amid the public outcry for him to assert the country’s maritime claims against China.

China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea but this is being disputed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. 

In 2016, an international arbitral tribunal ruled in favor of a petition by the Philippines and voided China’s expansive claim. China has refused to recognize the ruling, calling it illegal and a mere piece of paper. 

Duterte has said he was ready to set aside the arbitral decision to improve the Philippines’ ties with China.

Critics have accused the President of abandoning the Philippines’ interests in the South China Sea in exchange for Chinese aid but the President denied this, saying he would not give up even an inch of Philippine territory to China. 

Duterte reiterated that declaring war with China would only result in a “massacre” of Filipino soldiers. 

“I am not prepared to lose my soldiers and policeman for a simple adventurism,” he said. 


Asked to confirm reports that he got angry when Chinese ships harassed Filipino troops on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal, Duterte said he was not aware of the incident. 

“This is the first time I’ve heard of it,” Duterte said. 

“It would be dangerous for me to answer questions without really having the slightest idea of what it is all about,” he added. 

Last month, presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed that the Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest against China but declined to elaborate. 

Roque made the confirmation after opposition lawmaker Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano revealed that a Philippine Navy ship delivering supply to soldiers stationed on Ayungin Shoal were harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard and naval forces.

Roque did not give specifics about the incident but maintained the President would not give up the Philippines’ rights in the South China Sea. –  With Michael Punongbayan

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