Duterte says no stockpiling of weapons in Palawan amid sea row
President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he will not allow any country to stockpile weapons in Palawan as the Philippines is not ready for a war that may arise in the South China Sea.
In his speech during the 1st Subaraw Biodiversity Festival in Puerto Princesa City, Duterte said Palawan is in a very critical position once a war breaks out in the disputed waters.
“Palawan is critical, very critical. Because if something occurs in China Sea, all the misfire bullets will go here,” he said.
“The island is very critical and I think as a matter of foreign policy, I will not allow any country to stockpile any kind of weapon here,” he added.
Duterte said it is better not to be involved with any other country as the Philippines cannot afford to go to war.
“I’m putting on notice everybody, the United States, China, Australia, those who are interested, the Philippines is not ready for a war. We cannot afford it and we cannot manage it. Let’s not get into trouble,” he said.
He recalled his first bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping where he informed him of his plan of digging oil in the Philippine territory.
Xi then told him to resolve the territorial dispute peacefully.
“I told him, yes of course. I cannot afford to go to war with you. It would be a massacre,” he said.
Duterte said he would not put at risk the lives of the Filipino soldiers or policemen.
He also told the Chinese president that the country would have more share of the oil in the disputed waters if the exploration becomes successful.
He said he is not limiting to anyone those who could join the Philippines in the oil exploration in the disputed waters even if China complained.
The President noted the Philippine award from the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal, which invalidated China's sovereign and historical claims in almost the entire South China Sea through its nine-dash line theory.
Last October 18, Duterte signed a deal with Israeli firm, Ratio Petroleum Ltd., for a joint exploration off Palawan. Ella Dionisio/DMS