Duterte to Xi: Like it or not, we have to discuss arbitral ruling

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Whether Chinese President Xi Jinping likes it or not, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he would insist on invoking the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling during his upcoming trip to China.

Duterte said the first thing he would do when he sets foot in China for the fifth time during his term is to invoke the arbitral ruling — a promise he said he would act on before the end of his term.

“I’m going to China. And the first thing that I will bring out before them, the arbitral ruling,” Duterte said during the inauguration of a solar power project in Romblon on Wednesday night.

The President said that if he would not be allowed to raise the arbitral ruling during his next meeting with Xi, he would rather not talk about it at all.

Despite this, Duterte said he would not allow himself to be prevented from speaking his mind.

“You just cannot talk air. At sabi nila hindi pag-usapan. Sabi ko (And they said, it won’t be discussed. I said), ‘No.’ If I’m not allowed as a President of a sovereign nation to talk whatever I want to talk about, then let us not rather talk altogether,” he said.

“Do not control my mouth because that is a gift from God,” he added.

Regardless of what Xi would think, Duterte said he was ready to bring up the arbitral ruling and the 60-40 sharing arrangement on the proposed joint exploration for oil and gas in the West Philippine Sea.

“Whether you like it or not, will it make you happy or not, angry or otherwise, I’m sorry. But we have to talk (about) the arbitral ruling, then what we get if there is a start in the exploration and in the extraction of whatever worth there is in the bowels of the earth,” he said.

“The proposal of 60-40 in our favor would be a good start. I hope that it would graduate into something like towards how do we solve the arbitral ruling peacefully,” he added.

The President acknowledged that the Philippines could not afford to go to war against China since it would feed the military and police “to the mouths of hell.”

However, he emphasized how both the Philippines and China have always agreed to solve the sea row “peacefully.”

“You have always been saying we do not want — we do not have to go to war, we do not have to go to trouble and let us resolve this controversy peacefully,” Duterte said.

“So I will ask them, as what you said and what we have agreed upon, we talk to resolve this problem peacefully. Now, how, tell me, how do we start to solve the problem peacefully? There has got to be something,” he added.

Aside from the arbitral ruling and 60-40 sharing agreement, Duterte will also raise the June 9 Recto Bank (Reed Bank) maritime incident, where a Chinese vessel allegedly rammed and abandoned a Philippine fishing boat at sea.

Duterte is also scheduled to watch a Gilas Pilipinas game in the 2019 FIBA World Cup at the International Sports and Cultural Arena in Foshan City and visit Fujian University to attend the inauguration of a building there that was built in honor of his late mother, Soledad.

On July 12, 2016, the Philippines won its arbitration case filed against China in 2013, nullifying China’s nine-dash line claims of nearly the entire West Philippine Sea or South China Sea, including part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The PCA found “no legal basis” for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line” but China refused to recognize this. PNA