President Rodrigo Duterte said that conducting naval military activities in the highly contested West Philippine Sea is not advisable.
“China is there. That’s the reality. And America and everybody should realize that they are there. So if you just keep on creating little friction, one day a bad miscalculation can turn things – Murphy’s Law. If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong,” President Duterte said during a media interview in Singapore on November 15 while attending the ASEAN Summit and related summits.
“I said China is already in possession. It’s now in their hands. So why do you have to create frictions — strong — military activity that will prompt a response from China?” he added.
He also reiterated that Philippines will not participate in war.
“I do not mind everybody going to war, except that the Philippines is just beside those islands. And if there’s a shooting there, my country will be the first to suffer. That’s my only in — that is my only national interest there. Nothing else,” he said.
“I’m the country coordinator for ASEAN-China. I will try my best. I made a very strong statement yesterday about the urgent need for a COC so that everybody will know,” he added.
At the ASEAN-China Summit on November 14, President Duterte said “ASEAN and China continue to enhance political-security dialogue and cooperation through various ASEAN Plus One mechanisms including summit, ministerial and senior officials’ meetings, as well as in broader ASEAN-led frameworks.”
“ASEAN and China are committed to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety and the expeditious conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC),” he added. “ASEAN and China have seen steady progress in the initial phase of the COC negotiations since the announcement of a Single Draft COC Negotiating Text, and looked forward to the completion of the first reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text by 2019.”
Sources: https://www.facebook.com/pcoogov/videos/330075287808781; http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2018/11/15/Duterte-China-U.S.-South-China-Sea.html; https://news.mb.com.ph/2018/11/15/duterte-wants-no-military-drills-in-south-china-sea/