MANILA, Philippinse – As the world observes the Chinese New Year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wants residents with mixed Filipino and Chinese descent to continue their “charitable acts” in the country.
As in the past years, Duterte highlighted the “friendship” between the Philippines and China in his Lunar New Year message on Saturday, January 25.
“As we open a new page in our shared history, may we foster even stronger bonds of friendship with those of Chinese descent all around the world through cooperation, investments, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people ties,” Duterte said.
“I also hope that the Chinese-Filipino community will continue to engage in socio-civic and charitable acts that will uplift the lives of our people, especially the poor and the marginalized,” he added.
According to Duterte, these “small acts of kindness” would “create a ripple effect” that would benefit the whole country.
The President’s message comes just a day after he said he would leave it up to time and economic cooperation when dealing with China’s militarization of the West Philippine Sea, a part of the South China Sea that belongs to the Philippines but China claims for itself.
A Hague tribunal affirmed the Philippines’ ownership of the West Philippine Sea in 2016. But Duterte has downplayed this arbitral victory in order to get loans and grants from China.
Duterte has long been receiving flak for his pacifist view on the West Philippine Sea, even as China continues to build artificial islands on Philippine waters and use aggressive tactics to drive Filipino fishermen away from the disputed maritime areas. – Rappler.com