MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte appeared to shrug off the harrowing ordeal of the 22 Filipino fishermen who were left to drown by a Chinese vessel in Reed (Recto) Bank as he insisted that what happened was a "little" maritime incident that would not justify going into a military conflict with China.
“Well, I’m sorry, but that is how it is,” Duterte said, addressing the 22 Filipino fishermen directly.
“Kung gusto mong gumanti na doon, that is not…that is not a reason to go into any military exercise there. Kapag ginawa mo yan, giyera yan,” he said.
“So I’m sorry na iyun ang feeling nila,” he added. Para sa kanila, sa China, it happened within their jurisdiction, sa atin within our jurisdiction because we have two conflicting claims of ownership."
Recto Bank is within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone, which guarantees the country’s exclusive rights to the natural resources in the area.
Duterte, however, said China will not allow itself to be prevented to fish even inside the Philippines' EEZ.
When asked whether the Philippines should prevent China from fishing in the Philippine EEZ, Duterte said the two countries are "friends" and that there should not be any "bloody conclusion."
“I don’t think that China will do that. Why? Because we are friends. And (they’re) of the same view that that should not result to a bloody conclusion,” he said.