The dispute over the overlapping claims of the Philippines and China is not a reason for Filipinos to be "rude and disrespectful", President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday night.
Duterte made the remarks after his alter egos, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, issued strong statements against the continued presence of Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea.
"China remains to be our benefactor and just because, if I may just add something to the narrative, just because we have a conflict with China does not mean to say we have to be rude and disrespectful," Duterte said in his weekly talk to the people.
"As a matter of fact we have many things to thank China for in the past and itong tulong nila ngayon," he added.
Duterte said he never promised the public during his 2016 presidential campaign that he would retake Philippine features in the West Philippine Sea.
"I never, never in my campaign as president promised the people that I would retake the West Philippine Sea. I did not promise that I will pressure China," Duterte said.
"I never mentioned about China and the Philippines in my campaign because that is a very serious matter," he added.
Duterte said diplomacy was needed on the matter.
"I never promised anything. Just because I'm president gusto ninyo makipag-away ako," Duterte said.
In April 2016, then Davao City mayor Duterte said he would personally ride a jet ski to the features claimed by China and plant the Philippine flag.
“Kapag sinabi [ng UN arbitral tribunal] na panalo tayo at ayaw ng China, I will not go to war. Pupunta ako sa China. Ngayon 'pag ayaw nila, I will ask the Navy to bring me to the nearest boundary, diyan sa Spratly, sa Scarborough,” Duterte said.
“Bababa ako at sasakay ako ng jetski, dala dala ko ang flag ng Filipino at pupunta ako dun sa airport [ng China] tapos itanim ko. I will say, 'This is ours and do what you want with me'," he added.
Years later, Duterte said it was just a hyperbole.
Further, Duterte called on China to allow Filipino fishermen to "fish in peace."
"There is no reason for trouble. If there is one brewing, call our attention so we can talk immediately," Duterte said.
Before the televised briefing, Duterte was shown on Facebook receiving a Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine administered by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
'Get the f—k out'
Locsin on Monday told China on Twitter to "get the f—k out" of Philippine waters after months of swarming the area despite repeated demands from Manila to pull out.
His latest remarks came just as the Philippines lodged a new diplomatic protest against China for "belligerent" actions of Chinese Coast Guard to Philippine Coast Guard vessels patrolling and conducting training exercises in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc.
"China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE FUCK OUT. What are you doing to our friendship?" Locsin said.
"You. Not us. We’re trying. You. You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend; not to father a Chinese province," he added.
Lorenzana on Sunday said the maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea and Kalayaan Island Group by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources would continue despite China's call for the Philippines to stop maritime drills in the area.
In a statement, Lorenzana said the Philippine government will not waver in its position.
"While we acknowledge that China’s military capability is more advanced than ours, this does not deter us from defending our national interest, and our dignity as a people, with all that we have," Lorenzana said.
"Walang alisan [No leaving]."
Lorenzana denied that his position on the matter was at odds with President Rodrigo Duterte's.
"To those saying that we are not aligned with the president, let me clarify that my pronouncements echo the stand of our president," Lorenzana said. —NB, GMA News