Duterte to raise arbitration win if China exploits disputed waters

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 20 2017 10:23 AM | Updated as of Mar 20 2017 05:03 PM

YANGON, Myanmar - President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday he would assert Manila's victory in an international court should Beijing start extracting resources from the South China Sea.

Duterte had refused to raise the landmark ruling last July, which was initiated by his predecessor, Beningo Aquino III, as he sought a thaw in relations between the Philippines and China.

"Kung ang China magkuha na sila ng mga oil, o uranium or whatever that's inside the bowels of the sea, kalabitin ko sila, 'Ako man rin ang may-ari niyan. You claim it by historical right; by judgment, I won and it's mine,'" he said in a speech before the Filipino community in Myanmar.

(Once China gets oil, uranium or whatever that's inside the bowels of the sea, I will tap them and say, 'I own that.' You claim it by historical right; by judgment, I won and it's mine.)

The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) said China had no historical rights to the resource-rich waters. Beijing refuses to recognize the ruling.

Media reports last week said China was planning to build an "environmental monitoring" facility in Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground it had controlled since the end of a naval standoff with the Philippines in 2012.

Duterte met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing last October to reset diplomatic ties. He also secured $24 billion in trade and investment pledges.

"Pumunta ako ng China. I said, 'I come here in peace. I do not intend to impose the arbitral ruling on the China West Philippine Sea.' But I would like to tell you now that during my term, there will be a time where I have to confront you about this paper, the arbitral. It will not go beyond the four corners of this document," Duterte said in Yangon Sunday.

Duterte said he also told China he prefered trade and commerce instead of financial aid.