President Rodrigo Duterte is ready to protect the Philippines’ interests, particularly in the West Philippine Sea, during his upcoming trip to China from Aug. 28 to 31, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said on Monday.
The former Special Assistant to the President made this assurance after Duterte said he will raise the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling in his upcoming eighth bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
“Handang-handa naman po parati si Pangulong Duterte (President Duterte is always prepared). Alam ko ipaglalaban niya. Marami siyang gustong sabihin na kung ano po ang atin ay atin (President Duterte is always ready. I know he will fight for it. He has a lot he wants to say about what is ours being ours),” Go told reporters on the sidelines of the National Heroes’ Day commemoration in Taguig City.
“Pilipino po si Pangulong Duterte, proteksyunan niya po ang interes po ng bawat Pilipino (The President is a Filipino. He will protect the interests of every Filipino),” he added.
Go said nothing could stop the President from raising the arbitral ruling despite calls to defer his plan as an act of courtesy.
“Wala pong makakapigil kay Pangulong Duterte kung ano man po ang gustong sasabihin ng Pangulo (No one can stop him from saying what he wants),” Go said.
Go said as long as it concerned the interests of the Philippines and Filipinos, Duterte has always been willing to speak his mind.
In 2016, the PCA released its decision nullifying China’s nine-dash line map covering nearly the entire of South China Sea, including the WPS.
Duterte temporarily shelved the verdict to give way to diplomatic approach but promised to raise it before his term as president ends in 2022.
Aside from the arbitral ruling, Duterte said he will also raise the 60-40 sharing deal on the proposed joint exploration for oil and gas in the WPS and the June 9 Recto Bank (Reed Bank) maritime incident, where a Chinese vessel allegedly rammed and abandoned a Philippine fishing boat at sea.
During his fifth trip to China, Duterte will also watch the game of Gilas Pilipinas against Italy on August 31 in the 2019 FIBA World Cup at the International Sports and Cultural Arena in Foshan City. (PNA)