MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday told members of the military to practice restraint, especially on the Philippines' maritime dispute with China.
"So tayo, whenever there is an issue, in public, ano lang tayo, restraint. Hindi muna tayo maghanap ng away. At least, hindi galing sa atin," Duterte told military personnel in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.
Duterte, however, also instructed the military to be vigilant and prepared for anything.
"But we should be prepared. We should be prepared for any event. Just like in any other in the world. We have to have a strong armed forces. We have to have a military that can really protect the people and the integrity of this republic," he added.
Duterte earlier announced that he would pursue a "settlement" with China, even if this would mean setting aside an international arbitration court’s decision that invalidated the Asian giant’s vast sea claims in favor of the Philippines.
He also sought the help of former President Fidel Ramos, sending him as a special envoy to China.
READ: Ex-Pres Ramos accepts special envoy to China post
This, after judges at an arbitration tribunal in The Hague rejected China's claims to economic rights across large swathes of the South China Sea in a ruling that was claimed as a victory by the Philippines.