Roxas slams Duterte's China policy
Administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas castigated Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for the latter's plan to go to the West Philippine Sea and challenge China to a boxing or shooting match.
READ: Duterte's cinematic solution to South China Sea conflict
Roxas told reporters on Wednesday that the South China Sea row, perhaps the biggest foreign policy issue facing the presidential candidates and described as one of the major external threats to the Philippines since World War 2, is something that Duterte should not take lightly.
Roxas slammed the mayor for his ''foolish'' proposal.
"Anong kagaguhan ito? Ganoon ba ang uri ng pamumuno na dadalhin mo sa ating bansa? Suntukan at barilan, 'yan ba ang sagot mo sa lahat ng suliranin ng ating bansa at ng ating mga kababayan?" he said during a sortie in Alubijid, Misamis Oriental.
''Ang pagiging commander-in-chief ay isang mabigat na tungkulin. Hindi isinusubo sa alanganin ang ating mga tropa nang basta-basta lang o dahil lang sa mga salitang pasiga-siga ... Buhay ang nakataya dito. Bansa natin ang nakataya dito.
"Ang akin lang is that nakikita natin ngayon ang uri ng kanyang pamumuno, 'di ba? Imbis na mag-self correct ay lalo niyang isinusuko ang bansa natin. Biro mo, sasabihin niya, foreign policy niya sasabihin niya sa Tsina na suntukan o barilan na lang?" he said.
"Hindi ako papayag na dadalhin mo ang ating bansa sa alanganin, sa kapahamakan. Nandito ako, lalabanan kita, Mayor Duterte."
In a recent campaign speech, Duterte said the Philippines owns the West Philippine Sea and that he is willing to risk his life for it.
Duterte added it would be futile to engage China in a shooting war since the Philippines cannot match the Asian giant's firepower.
''I will not go to war because we will not win it. It will be a massacre. I will not waste the lives of Filipino soldiers and policemen. Ano ako, gago? Patay lahat iyan,'' he said.
''I will not waste the lives of Filipinos. I will ask the Navy to bring me to the nearest point [in South China Sea] that is tolerable to them and I will ride a jet ski. I'll carry a flag and when I reach Spratlys, I will erect the Filipino flag. I will tell them (Chinese), suntukan o barilan?"
Duterte also said he is willing to "shut up" about the dispute if he becomes president, as long as China offers to build vital transportation facilities and other infrastructure in the Philippines.
READ: Duterte willing to back down on sea dispute with China
The Aquino administration has brought the maritime dispute to a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal.
The Hague-based tribunal is expected to release soon its decision on the case filed by the Philippines against China. The case filed by the Philippines seeks to invalidate China's vague ''nine-dash line'' claim to the South China Sea.
The Philippines under President Aquino insists that it has the right to exclusively explore resources within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
China has been accused of violating the Philippines' EEZ by building artificial islands in the contested Spratly Islands and harassing Filipino fishermen.
China has refused to participate in the proceedings and said it will not accept the court's ruling. Although the tribunal's decision will be binding on all parties involved, experts note that the court has no means of enforcing its ruling.