President Rodrigo Duterte said during the oath taking ceremony of Davao City Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte that the Recto (Reed) Bank incident between Chinese and Filipino fishing vessels on June 9 was not an attack to Philippine sovereignty.
He said that the Recto Bank incident “was not a matter of sovereignty. Twelve miles lang tayo, that is part of our territory as a Republic. Beyond that ang ibinigay sa atin exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It is not an attack on our sovereignty. Malayo ‘yan.”
He also said that the incident should be handled by agencies like the poilice or coast guard and not by the military. “Parang bungguan ‘yan sa highway. It is not a confrontation of armed men and machines or ships,” President Duterte noted.
“We consider it a maritime incident and it should be investigated by coast guard or we lawyers call it marine board of inquiry,” he said. “You do not call the navy ‘pagka walang gera. You just concentrate on the police, fisheries, or coast guard.”
However, the President said he is not afraid of China. He said he is afraid that the Philippines cannot stand a fight.
“Hindi ako takot sa China. Takot ako na baka walang kalaban, walang kalaban laban tayo. At baka tayo ang maubos. Pero kung sabihing, America has the right to interfere, if it becomes a bloody confrontation. And if there is an invocation of the RP-US [Mutual Defense Treaty], it should be concurred by Congress of America,” he added.
He also said that he will ask at the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Thailand if “is it correct for China to declare ownership of an ocean?”
He said he will talk “lengthily” about the dangers of claiming an entire ocean at the upcoming ASEAN Summit and related summits.