He said he had no intention of aggressively pursuing the Philippine maritime claim and taking on China and the only power capable of doing so was the United States.
Interviewed by CNN Philippines, Duterte said it would happen “during my time, ” but he was not yet ready to discuss the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and neither was China.
“I cannot let it pass and be neglected,” he told CNN Philippines, referring to the ruling of China’s broad claims in the South China Sea.
The Philippines brought an international court proceeding against China regarding the issue, with a court of arbitration in Hague, ruled in July that China had “unlawfully restricted Filipino fisherman from from fishing at Scarborough Shoal.”
Last November 2016, the President Duterte declare the Scarborough Shoal a fishing-free zone.
Few weeks before the international tribunal ruling, two U.S. carrier groups, the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS John Stennis were deployed near the Philippines. Also, by July 2016, The USS Ronald Reagan, with the other units of Carrier Strike Group 5, the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed strike group, conducted patrols in the South China Sea.
However, the previous agreement between the former administration and the US government suddenly changed. President Duterte deliver harsh word to the United States President, and to the US ambassador in the Philippines.
“We will not join any expedition of patrolling the sea. I will not allow it because I don’t want my country to be involved in hostile act. Patrolling kasi, when you patrol not only high seas but somebody else’s territory. Whether it is really owned by us, which the judgement says atin iyan, entitlement sabihin naman ng isa, China. That’s beside my point. The point is I don’t want to ride gung-ho style there with China or with America,” Duterte said.
“I just want to patrol our territorial waters… We do not go into patrol or join any army because I do not want trouble,” he added.
However, “One situation where he would take a stand against China was if it were to begin exploiting natural resources within the Philippine sovereign territory,” Interviewed by CNN.
The 150 square kilometer lagoon and a group of Islands in Spratly are at the center of a territorial dispute between Manila and Beijing.