MANILA – Senator Manny Pacquiao said the Philippines "should not be bullied" and must defend its territory when asked if relations between the country and China will change if he is elected president.
Pacquiao, a boxer-turned-politician, is gunning for the country’s top post in 2022.
He stressed it is important for the Philippines to maintain peaceful relations with China.
“Yang usapin sa West Philippine Sea, kailangan natin paninidigan, ipaglaban kung ano yung atin, at hindi tayo, ‘wag tayo makipag-away, hindi natin kailangan awayin ang China,” he said on ANC’s “Headstart.”
(On the issue of the West Philippine Sea, we need to insist on and defend what is ours, and we do need to start a fight with China.)
“In fact mas mabuti pang kaibiganin natin para makatulong sa ating bansa, at pag-usapan kung ano yung atin...kunin natin, paglaban natin, at kung ano yung mga makakatulong sa ating bansa, makaambag sa ating Pilipino, sa mga kabayang Pilipino, eh makaunlad sa ating bansa, ay doon tayo.”
“’Wag tayong, hindi naman tayo basta-basta rin na magpapabully lang ganyan, eh gusto nating kaibigan sa lahat ng mga bansa.”
(In fact, it’s better if we befriend them to help our country, and discuss what is ours…we should take that, and whatever helps Filipinos, whatever helps our country succeed, we should stand by that. We should not let ourselves be bullied, we also want to be friends with other countries.)
In May, Pacquiao said President Rodrigo Duterte's stance against Beijing regarding the West Philippine Sea weakened after the 2016 national elections, describing his latest response on the issues surrounding it as "lacking."
Duterte, however, said Pacquiao should educate himself first before making comments on the Philippines' approach towards China.
During a televised election debate in 2016, Duterte said he would personally go to the West Philippine Sea to raise the Philippine flag.
Shortly after winning the presidential elections, a UN-backed court in The Hague invalidated China's 9-dash line claim in the South China Sea.
Duterte did not enforce the ruling as he forged closer ties with Beijing in exchange for loans for his administration's massive infrastructure push.
--ANC, 15 October 2021