‘Let time heal,’ Duterte says of South China Sea dispute
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said he would prefer to “let time heal” rather than make a fierce stance on the continuing territorial dispute over the South China Sea.
In an interview aired Friday by Russian television network RT, the President cautioned the response may not be “contained” should the Philippines make a “reckless move” like Vietnam.
“The other side really wants to do a more aggressive stance, and I cannot afford to do it,” Duterte said, referring to Vietnam. “I cannot afford a stand where I will be drumming my drums because we cannot afford it. It would annihilate the Philippines. And so that is very dangerous.”
“Local government of the Philippines is near them. And so it would be reckless move if I sent just like Vietnam small vessels only to get a bloody nose at the end of the day,” he continued.
Mindful of the situation escalating due to the presence of Americans in the country, Duterte said the Philippines will instead improve its ties with China and “let time heal.”
“The response might not be that contained if I get to move because there are so many American ships here. they might just also want to take advantage and make it a pretext that they are defending the Philippines and it will go out beyond our control,” Duterte said.
“We want as well to just be friendly, improve our trade and commerce and let time heal. Tomorrow will take care of itself, one thing we are sure of. And like any other historical claim, the world is always changing and we did not really do it at the expense of the lives of Filipinos,” he added.
Vietnam has been vocal about its opposition to China’s “nine-dash line” claim over South China Sea. Last year, a standoff between Vietnamese and Chinese vessels went on near the former’s oil-rich area within its exclusive economic zone.
Meanwhile, Duterte had repeatedly refused to make provocative actions in dealing with the long-standing territorial dispute with China, saying the Philippines cannot match Beijing’s military prowess in time of armed confrontation.
Edited by MUF
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