Duterte ready to go to war over Benham Rise but open for 'co-ownership' in South China Sea with Beijing
President Rodrigo Duterte warned on Wednesday his administration is ready to go to war if foreign countries will intrude into the Philippine Rise.
This, as Duterte is open for a "co-ownership" with China in the disputed South China Sea.
In a speech in Marawi City, Duterte reiterated that the Philippines has sovereignty in the Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, at eastern part of Luzon.
"If you look at the map of the Philippines, the right side is east, your left side is west, in eastern (part) that's Philippine Rise. That's really ours," he said.
Duterte said he sent a battalion of Marines in Cagayan to patrol the Philippine Rise.
"I sent Marines there, one battallion. I said, 'No one will experiment there until they have gotten permit from me, but the Armed Forces will have to recommend it," he said.
"Otherwise, no. I will not allow fishing...we will have war," Duterte stressed.
Duterte ordered early February to stop all marine scientific research by foreigners in Philippine Rise.
This was after the government received criticisms for allowing China to conduct a research in the area despite its failure to recognize an arbitral ruling over the Philippine rights in the disputed South China Sea at the western side of the country.
Meanwhile, Duterte is mulling to have "co-ownership" with China in its Philippine-claimed areas in the South China Sea than having a dispute with the East Asian country.
He said it was China, which offered joint exploration in the disputed waters.
"Now they have offered joint exploration, so this is like co-ownership. It's like the two of us, which are owners (of the area). That's better than having a rift," he said.
China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea, while the Philippines has been owning those areas within its 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Celerina Monte/DMS