In this on March 26, 2019 file photo, President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech during the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan campaign rally at the South Cotabato Sports Complex in Koronadal City.
Karl Norman Alonzo/Presidential Photo
'How?' Duterte asks amid call to keep Chinese out of Philippine EEZ
Alexis Romero ( - June 26, 2019 - 9:26pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 9:45 p.m.) — How do I ban Chinese ships from fishing in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone?

President Rodrigo Duterte posed the question to critics who have chided him for saying that China could not be stopped from fishing in the Philippine EEZ, an area where the country has rights to the marine resources.

Asked on Monday if the Philippines can keep Chinese vessels from fishing in the West Philippine Sea, Duterte said he does not believe they will stay out of the Philippines' EEZ.

"Why? Because we're friends," Duterte explained. 

RELATED: Senators question presence of Chinese 'friends' in Philippine EEZ

'How do I enforce?'

Speaking during the 122nd anniversary of the Presidential Security Group in Malacañang, Duterte said even western countries like the United States could not compel China to refrain from claiming ownership of disputed areas in the South China Sea.

"They tell me you have to ban China, prohibit them. If I prohibit them, how do I enforce?," Duterte said.

"Takot nga ang Amerika, ayaw nga mag-control tapos ako pa ipusta nila? Gusto talaga nila mapasubo ako (Even America was afraid. They do not want to control, then they want me to put me on the line? They really want to put me at risk)," the president of the Republic of the Philippines said.

Duterte claimed the US did nothing even if it was aware of China's plan to build a military base in the South China Sea.

"We cannot drive away because they have insisted it is theirs," he said.

Duterte has repeatedly said that the Philippines cannot match China's military might, although critics of the administration's policy in the West Philippine Sea have said diplomatic alternatives to war exist.

RELATED: War is not the answer: How other claimants handled maritime incidents

'US, European countries should join Philippines'

Duterte also challenged the US and some European countries to join the Philippines in resisting China's activities in South China Sea.

"This is my challenge, America, Britain, France: Let us assemble in Palawan and proceed directly to Spratlys. Let us seize whatever we can seize," Duterte said.

The US, UK and France have sailed through the South China Sea in what are sometimes called "freedom of navigation" operations.

"Kung maubos tayo lahat, sabi nila (If we all perish, they will claim) Duterte is not protecting the interest of the Filipino. Godd**n sh**. You want me to put the lives of 110 million Filipino by going into trouble?" Duterte added.

RELATED: France to continue sailing in South China Sea

"'Pag sumabog tayong apat eh 'di okay lang. It's not the time to go to war... Reality, that's geopolitics."

Duterte said a conflict could escalate if the Philippines resorts to agressive actions.

"Eh, kung magkainitan talaga? Kung gusto talaga sundin, you enforce. Eh, kung magkapikunan? Kung paputukin ka nila, magpaputok ka? (What if tensions rise? Will you shoot?)" he said.

"Ang hawak nila, kwitis, pero ang warhead is atomic bomb.  Ang ating hawak, kwitis pero para pangpista lang 'yan. Hindi yun pang-away (They have rockets but their warheads are atomic bombs. We have firecrackers but they are only used for feasts, not for clashes). You know we will lose by sheer might."

RELATED: US Coast Guard to help countries struggling with

Allision 'untintentional'

Duterte also claimed that the ramming of the Filipino boat near Recto Bank was not intentional. He said Cabinet members have agreed that the boat was sideswept by the Chinese ship.

"Hindi talaga na binunggo. Kung binunggo nasa ilalim yun (If it was intentional, it should have been hit from below)," the president said. 

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier made a similar observation, earning him criticism both from the public and from Lanie Insigne, the wife of the captain of F/B Gem-Ver 1, the fishing boat involved in the allision and whose crew was left in the water by the Chinese vessel that hit them.

"It's like he would rather that people died to prove that the boat was really hit," she said in Filipino after Cusi said Gem-Ver 1 would have been in the hull. 

Duterte also called Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio "stupid" for criticizing his statement on allowing China to fish in EEZ.

Carpio: Allowing China to 'share' EEZ unconstitutional

Carpio said late Tuesday that not enforcing jurisdiction over the Philippine EEZ because of a friendship with China violates the constitution.

Under Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, "The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens."

As commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Duterte has the constitutional duty to direct the military to protect the country's marine wealth in its EEZ, Carpio said.

"The Armed Forces of the Philippines is specifically tasked by the Constitution to be 'the protector of the people' and to 'secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of the national territory,'" Carpio said in a statement released Tuesday.

Citing the Constitution, Carpio also noted that the national territory includes "other submarine areas" where the Philippines has "sovereignty or jurisdiction."

In July 2016, the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal ruled that the Philippines has jurisdiction over its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea, including Recto or Reed Bank. Under the Constitution, these areas are also considered part of the "national territory."

"The Philippines has exclusive right to exploit all the fish, oil, gas and other mineral resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone," Carpio said.

"This sovereign right belongs to the Filipino people, and no government can waive this sovereign right of the Filipino people without their consent," he added. — with a report by Patricia Lourdes Viray

(Editor's note: Updated to add paragraphs under the heading 'US, European countries should join Philippines')

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