Duterte asks U.S.: Why didn't you try to stop China?

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 23 2017 11:13 PM | Updated as of Mar 23 2017 11:25 PM

Four or five years ago when the United States did overflights in the West Philippine Sea and saw building activities being conducted by the Chinese, how come the Americans did nothing to stop it?

This question was raised by President Rodrigo Duterte at a gathering of lawyers in Pasay City on Thursday.

Duterte has repeatedly called out Washington for "wanting the Philippines to be more assertive" about China's activities in the disputed waters.

"Alam ng America yan, 4-5 years ago, there were overflights done by U.S., Australia… why the hell ang America sabihin niya ngayon magpunta ang navy ko, it would mean a massacre for my soldiers. Why did you not, at first instance, pinuntahan ninyo mga Intsik doon nagtatrabaho, building structures there, it's near the mouth of the Indian Ocean… bakit hindi mo pinuntahan doon, bakit hindi mo sinita?" he said.

"Bakit hindi ka nagpadala aircraft carrier and you had to wait for the problem to be an international problem [now]? You could have cut the problem in the bud had you taken a decisive action… bakit sasabihin mo, 'You assert, you assert,' at sasabihin mo dalhin ko navy ko there? One single solitary shot could lead to an explosion and it could lead to war and it will be slaughter. We are no match, and we have to be brutally frank about it; huwag na natin bolahin sarili natin," he added. 

He said that at 72 years old, he recognizes the need to avoid "miscalculation".

"Be careful of that word: miscalculate," he said.

Duterte said that because of a military alliance between the U.S. and the Philippines, he is extending his hand to China only in the realm of trade and commerce.

Despite improved relations between China and the Philippines, Duterte said he informed Chinese officials during his visit to Beijing that at some point, he will have to raise an United Nations arbitral ruling on the West Philippine Sea dispute, which is favorable to the position of the Philippines.

"Sabi ko, I come here in peace, I will shake your hand, but there is one thing that you have to realize this early before we start talking and that is, during my term, there will be a time that I will mention to you about the arbitral ruling and we have to talk about it."

"Sabi ko mag-usap talaga tayo; sabi nila okay," Duterte said.

The President was the keynote speaker at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines' (IBP's) 16th National Convention of Lawyers.