MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte stressed the need to "remain meek and humble" to appease the ego and receive the "mercy" of the likes of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In a speech in Aurora on Tuesday, May 15, Duterte also said Xi is proposing a "bigger share" for the Philippines when their countries conduct a joint development of the West Philippine Sea.
The West Philippine Sea is part of the South China Sea that belongs to the Philippines, but is claimed by China. (READ: Stop calling it the 'disputed' West Philippine Sea – Carpio)
Recalling his exchanges with Xi, Duterte said, "Ang tao naman basta ganoon ang paano mo, you remain meek and humble, eh 'yung ego niya, mag-start to, and then it turns to something basic like maaawa rin."
(When it comes to people, as long as you remain meek and humble, his ego starts to, and then it turns to something basic like they will have mercy.)
Duterte added that “negotiating” with China on the joint exploration and development of the West Philippine Sea, is better than “going to war where Filipino soldiers would surely be annihilated by a “cruise missile.”
“Sabi niya [Xi] sige, so we are now negotiating. Eh kaysa magkagiyera ako, sabi ko mauubos ang sundalo ko, pag-launch pa lang ng – alam mo, atin ito ganito kalaki, 'sus matamaan ito ng cruise missile, wala na, patay ang sundalo ko," Duterte said.
(He [Xi] said, okay, so we are now negotiating. Rather than go to war, I said, where I’d lose all my soldiers….If they get hit by this cruise missile, that’s it, my soldiers would die.)
Last week, US media, reported that China had installed new missiles on artificial islands it had built in the South China Sea.
'Bigger share' of Philippine waters
Duterte, however, said the Philippines is "not giving up" its rights over the West Philippine Sea.
He said China was even willing to find a solution, such as "offering" the joint exploration and development of the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte said in reference to Xi, "Sabi niya (He said), 'Maybe you'll have a bigger share, tingnan natin (let's see).'"
He later added, "Ngayon 'yung West Philippine Sea, kunin ko na lang kung anong makuha natin ngayon (Now on the West Philippine Sea, I will just get what we can right now)."
Duterte delivered this speech in Casiguran, Aurora, as he sent off scientists who will conduct research in the Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise.
Duterte earlier said he will sail to the Philippine Rise to assert the Philippines' rights over this uncontested area. He broke this promise on Tuesday, as his son Sebastian Duterte and closest aide Bong Go conducted a jet ski stunt in Casiguran Bay instead.
False claim, again
In his speech in Casiguran on Tuesday, Duterte also repeated his false claim about the 2016 ruling by a Hague tribunal asserting the Philippines' rights over the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte said the Hague ruling was issued during Aquino's term, when it was released on June 12, 2016, days after Duterte took office on June 30, 2016.
"Aquino filed for arbitration, he won. From the time the arbitration award was handed down to the time that he was nearing his end, there was sufficient time for him to act and do something," Duterte said.
Duterte is now downplaying the 2016 Hague ruling for the sake of boosting ties with Beijing.
Xi, for his part, promised to protect Duterte from any plan to remove him from office, according to the Philippine leader.
"The assurances of Xi Jinping were very encouraging. 'We will not – ,' eh nandiyan naman sila (anyway they're there). 'We will not allow you to be taken out from your office, and we will not allow the Philippines to go to the dogs," Duterte said on Tuesday. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.