“Gratitude,” particularly to the COVID-19 vaccines, is one of the reasons why President Rodrigo Duterte has not been able to be more courageous against China on the issue in the West Philippine Sea, he said in a speech on Wednesday.
“I’m stating it for the record, we do not want war with China. China is a good friend. Mayroon tayong utang na loob na marami, pati ‘yong bakuna natin. So China, let it be known, is a good friend, and we do not want a trouble with them, especially a war,” said Duterte.
The President said he would just wait for China’s response to the protest, but admitted that he could not blame China for what it was doing because of what the previous administration had done.
‘Gratitude’ not a reason to overlook what China is doing: expert
He also said that the President doubts the sincerity of the United States in saying that it supports the Philippines’ fight on the issue of the West Philippine Sea.
“In so many instances, puro salita lang, that they will stand by you. That could have been the moment to show to the world that they were with us by sending their superior ships, bakit hindi nila ginawa?” said Duterte.
Meanwhile, maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal was not surprised that the President refused to go to war with the Chinese out of perceived “indebtedness.”
But Batongbacal insisted that indebtedness should not be a reason for the President to simply allow China to take over Philippine territory.
“Hindi rason ‘yung pagiging magkaibigan para payagan mo na basta na lang kukunin ‘nung kabila ‘yung karapatan mo at mga likas-yaman mo. So hindi tayo dapat matakot din na maging matapang, maging firm tayo, manindingan tayo sa ating karapatan. Nasa diskarte naman ‘yan kung paano mo ipapahiwatig ang iyong posisyon at papaano mo paninindigan ang iyong karapatan,” said Batongbacal.