‘No strings attached’ to China’s jabs donation, ‘except their boats are there’ – Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — China donated COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines with “no strings attached,” except “that their boats are there,” President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday during his weekly late-night briefing, adding that he had also sent ships to the West Philippine Sea.
“China gave with no strings attached. Until now, China has not asked me for anything. No request, nothing at all. Not even a ballpen,” Duterte said, speaking partly in Filipino.
“Except that their boats are there,” he added. “And as I said, I will also put [boats] there. That’s one month or two months ago. I said, ‘I want my ships also there’,” he added.
Duterte said he would not order the Philippine ships to leave the contested West Philippine Sea even as he stressed that he would not want to go to war with any country.
Nonetheless, Duterte said that the Philippines would fight if push should come to shove.
“As a feature or semblance of our claim, we have ships there and I would not let them leave. No way would I tell them, ‘Move back.’ Which was what [then Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV] and even [then Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario] did. No way,” Duterte said.
“If things go to pieces [magka-lechehan], there’s nothing we can do about it. We have to fight because I’m not [going] to retreat,” he added.
China has donated millions of doses of CoronaVac, the COVID-19 vaccine made by Sinovac BioTech, to the Philippines. The latest shipment consisting of two million doses arrived last Aug. 12.