President Duterte has said that the Army could topple him if he sent soldiers on a “suicide mission” against China over disputed islands.
He made the remark as Beijing continues its military buildup in the South China Sea and amid criticism of his government’s cautious approach to the issue.
He said sending troops to fight the Asian superpower would “result in a massacre”.
“We cannot afford a war at this time because it will result in a massacre. I am not prepared to lose my soldiers and policeman for a simple adventurism,” he said during a press briefing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport shortly after his return from a three-day visit to South Korea yesterday (Tuesday, June 5).
He added that there was no guarantee the Army would follow his orders if if he sent them to fight.
“If I do that, either I am inviting trouble within my country or the military and police will oust me. They are not prepared to go into suicide.
“They would rather dispense me rather than lose their soldiers unnecessarily and needlessly,” he said.
He then reiterated Beijing’s previous threats that defending territorial rights in the South China Sea “might lead into some kind of trouble”.
“And when you say that word ‘trouble’ in Chinese, it means exactly what it means. Are we prepared to go to war?” he asked.
“Can I rely on America to drop the first bomb when we attack? Can I rely on anybody’s help? If all of my soldiers will die there and all of the policemen to assist them? The people will execute me right at the Luneta [Rizal Park, Manila],” he added.
“It’s easy to say that. If I am the military, I am the general, and someone commands me to go there and to kill our soldiers, I’d say, ‘Fuck you, why do I have to do that?’
“This is an armed forces of service, not suicide. Remember that they have learned their lessons in several occasions in this country.”
On Monday, we reported that the Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted that the Philippine military lacked the resources to stand up to China.