“You know, I cannot go there even to bring the Coast Guard to drive them away. China also claims the property and he is in possession,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in his SONA delivered July 22. He explained that the avoidance of conflict and protection of territory should be balanced.
“‘Yan ang problema. Sila ‘yung in possession and claiming all the resources there as an owner. We are claiming the same but we are not in the position because of that fiasco noong dalawang nag-standoff doon (Scarborough Shoal) during the time of my predecessor. Si Albert, ambassador,” Duterte said.
“Tayo ang umatras. Pagsabi niya umatras, that was a kind of a compromise. Tayo ang umatras. Noong umatras tayo, pumasok sila. Marami na,” he added. “That day, we lost the Spratly and the Panganiban Island. Iyan ang totoo. Walang bolahan ‘yan.”
President Duterte explained that “the avoidance of conflict – armed conflict and protection of our territorial waters and natural resources compel us to perform a delicate balancing act.”
“A shooting war is grief and misery multiplier. War leaves widows and orphans in its wake. I am not ready or inclined to accept the occurrence of more destruction, more widows and more orphans, should war, even on a limited scale, breaks out,” he said.
“More and better results can be reached in the privacy of a conference room than in a squabble in public. That is why I will do in the peaceful way, mindful of the fact that it is our national pride and territorial integrity that are at stake,” he added.
“Short of expressly advocating a call to arms, there are those who say that we should stand up and stop those who fish in our economic zone. Of course we will do in due time,” he said.