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Duterte: Sea dispute will be discussed, but no bargaining in China visit

President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday confirmed that he will bring up the South China Sea row during his state visit to China, but insisted there would neither be "bargaining" nor "hard imposition" over disputed territories.

In a media briefing right in Davao City before he flies to Brunei, Duterte said instead of "bargaining," he would actually continue insisting on the Philippines' territorial claims by invoking the recent UN Arbitral Tribunal's decision favoring the Philippines.

"We will stick to our claim. We do not bargain anything there. We continue to insist that that's ours and that the international tribunal decision will be taken up. But there will be no hard impositions," said Duterte, whose state visit to China will be the first for the Philippines since 2011.

"We will talk but maybe paraphrase everything in the [arbitral] judgment and set the limits of our territories," added the President, who is scheduled for a state visit to Brunei before going to China on October 18.

Duterte stressed there are only two ways on settling the territorial dispute over the South China Sea, "[either] we go to trouble or we talk. We cannot choose the path there in between."

Duterte, who is pushing for an independent foreign policy while strengthening ties with China, vowed not to bargain any of the Philippine territorial claims, saying he would insist on the country's 12 nautical mile territorial sea and 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

"I will be very careful not to bargain anything for after all, I cannot give what is not mine and which I am not empowered to do by any such stretch of imagination," he said.


Duterte, meanwhile, said he agrees with Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio's pronouncement that giving up the country's sovereignty could be a ground for his impeachment.

"He is correct... it's an impeachable offense. I do not fight with that statement. It's all correct. It's all legal. I agree with him," said Duterte.

"I said we cannot barter which is not ours, which belongs to the Filipino people. I cannot be the sole authorized agent for that is not allowed under the Constitution," the President added.

Duterte said he looks forward to renewing ties of friendship and reaffirming shared goals between the Philippines and China.

"We shall seek ways to strengthen cooperation and partnership to intensify two-way trade and investment," he said.

"I look forward to exchanging views with the leader of China on how we can further improve our relationship so we can identify emerging areas of partnership and various fields of cooperation," he added.

Duterte said he would "espouse cooperation and collaboration with friendly nations on the basis of sovereignty, equality, non-interference and mutual respect in all our dealings."

The President vowed to remain true to the constitutional mandate imposed on me to uphold national interest of the Philippines. —ALG, GMA News