President Rodrigo Duterte gave the assurance that he will not bargain the Philippine territories in the West Philippine Sea with China’s leaders in his state visit this week, he said in a briefing on Sunday.
The president told the media that there will be a peaceful talk between the leaders but no bargaining will be done. He stated that the Philippines will continue to invoke its ownership to the territories, citing the international tribunal’s decision, but that “there will be no hard imposition.”
There had been concerns that Duterte’s efforts to establish a closer relationship with China would compromise the Philippines’ maritime sovereignty but there was word from the president that such event would not happen. Furthermore, the president recognized that the West Philippine Sea is one of the special concerns of the country as of the moment.
Duterte stated that he cannot give up the disputed territories simply because he has no personal ownership over the said area and further assured that he will be careful not to bargain anything with China. This is in acknowledgement to Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s warning that China might not agree to any deals or joint projects unless Duterte concedes the country’s rights in the South China Sea.
Carpio recalled an instance where former President Fidel V. Ramos was asked by the president of China’s National Institute for South China Sea Studies, Wu Shichun, to acknowledge Beijing’s sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal before any explorations could happen. Carpio also emphasized that sovereignty cannot be conceded by the president.
Meanwhile, the President is currently in Brunei for a state visit. He is set to spend three days in the said country and meet with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah before proceeding to his first state visit in China.