The President also shielded Beijing from criticisms that it is taking advantage of its friendlier relations with the Philippines by setting aside an arbitral ruling on the South China Sea.
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China just wants to be friends with Philippines — Duterte
Christina Mendez, Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — China only wants to be friends with the Philippines and is not asking for an inch of the country’s territory in exchange for loans and grants, according to President Duterte.

“Pumunta ako ng China (I went to China), they just want to be friends. Binigyan ako ng armas, binigyan ako ng bala, eh hanggang ngayon wala namang hiningi, wala namang hininging teritoryo (I was given arms and ammunition and until now they’ve not demanded any territory),” he said in a speech at the proclamation of local and senatorial candidates of PDP-Laban in Malabon City Tuesday night.

The President also shielded Beijing from criticisms that it is taking advantage of its friendlier relations with the Philippines by setting aside an arbitral ruling on the South China Sea.

“You know, Red China or communist China just wants to be friends with us,” he reiterated.

China, he emphasized, has not stopped being friendly to the Philippines despite criticisms of Beijing’s policies from Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, former ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and former foreign affairs chief Albert del Rosario.

Carpio has been vocal in his warning about China leading the Philippines into a debt trap. Morales and Del Rosario have filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court to hold Beijing accountable for building artificial islands in the South China Sea and ruining the livelihood of Filipino fishermen.

Several quarters have raised a howl over what they believed were loan deals with China for the construction of the Kaliwa Dam project in Sierra Madre and the Chico River Pump Irrigation project in Mountain Province.

In his speech in Malabon, Duterte outlined the assistance of Beijing to Manila since announcing his pivot to China upon his assumption to office in 2016.

The President said Beijing and Russia offered to help his administration in its ambitious infrastructure program.

“And the so many things but I never mentioned such as the Build Build Build because I was not sure if China would deal with me when I became president. It was only when I went there and talked to them, including Russia, and the Americans were reluctant,” he said.

Duterte also said he was grateful to China for its grant of firearms for the police and the military during the initial stage of martial law in Mindanao.

The Chief Executive recalled how US lawmakers blocked the sale of defense equipment to the Philippines, allegedly as an offshoot of his attacks against then US president Barack Obama for the latter’s alleged meddling in his drug war.

He said Beijing’s move was timely as there was a need to modernize the country’s law enforcement and military units.

Again, Duterte said the country does not have the capability to wage war against China over the latter’s seizure and militarizing of land features in the West Philippine Sea.

“If I go to war pupulpugin ang Navy ko in a matter of minutes. At kung makipag-giyera ako sa China, in seven minutes ‘yung missile nila aabot ng Maynila (my Navy will be pulverized in a matter of minutes. And if I go to war with China, in seven minutes their missiles will reach Manila),” he said. “Bakit ako makipag-away? Bakit ko ipaubos ang pulis ko pati sundalo ko? (Why would I pick a fight? Why would I let my soldiers and police get wiped out)?” 

He rained expletives on the elite, claiming they do nothing but sow intrigue.

Duterte shrugged off the criticisms perpetuated allegedly by the elite. “They’re so rich, I hate them. I’m not the president of the rich,” he fumed.

He also emphasized there would be no letup in his fight against illegal drugs.

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