MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine Coast Guard Sunday to patrol the islands of Batanes to ensure that it "will remain ours."
The President said the Coast Guard can patrol the islands from "time to time," noting that it is the responsibility of the government to preserve the country.
"You might want to ask the Coast Guard to --- pumunta dito, mag-istambay lang, palit-palit lang, to patrol the island from time to time. Not everyday but just to assure that those islands will remain ours," he said during a situation briefing with Batanes local officials.
(You might want to ask the Coast Guard to go here and hang out for a while.)
"But as much as possible, I’d like to --- that is one of the --- well kaming lahat (all of us) workers of government tayo, we are supposed to preserve the Republic of the Philippines," he said.
Duterte visited Batanes a day after 2 earthquakes struck the northern islands.
He added that the Philippines' territory should be clear to the international community as he mentioned Beijing's sweeping claims in the South China Sea.
"And whatever is ours it should be the --- it should be very clear to everybody that it is ours," he said.
Duterte explained that Manila's maritime dispute with Beijing is due to conflicting claims of both countries in the West Philippine Sea.
He also reiterated that the Philippines cannot win a war against China.
"So dito bantayan ninyo ‘yan (Guard this). While you were talking about earthquakes, do not ever… Iyan I will not surrender even one can of milo there. One can of earth hindi ako papayag (I won't allow it)," he said.
But unlike Manila's situation in the said waters, the President assured Filipinos that he will not surrender Batanes to any country and called on the Coast Guard to keep a watchful eye over the area
"Kaya sabi ko I need to patrol the area once in a while. For all I know nandun ako tapos nakatalikod tayong lahat, they are doing --- they are already mining at the back," he said.
(That's why I said I have to patrol the area once in a while. For all I know, I'm there and we all have our backs turned and they are already mining at the back.)
"But just the same, I am really not in the mood of just giving our territory because of what happened in this West Philippine Sea," he said.