Malacanang on Thursday clarified that President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that incursions in the Philippine Rise would trigger war was not directed at China.
“China has already recognized that we have sovereign rights over the area,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a press statement.
Duterte on Wednesday said countries seeking to conduct experiments and research as well as fishing in Philippine Rise should get his permission.
“Otherwise, no. I will not allow fishing, I will not…magkagiyera tayo (we will go to war),” the President said in his speech at the inauguration of a housing project for residents of war-torn Marawi City.
During Thursday’s opening ceremonies of the National Special Weapon and Tactics Challenge in Davao City, Duterte said he was not angry when he said incursions in the Philippine Rise would trigger war.
“I was not really angry. I do not use the word war,” Duterte clarified.
The President, however, said he would not allow “any country” to explore in Philippine Rise without the government’s go signal.
He said the Philippines has no sophisticated arms like cruise missile but warned to “not mess up with us because we will not allow it.”
Duterte said he already sent a battalion of government troops to protect the Philippine Rise.
“The President is firm in his stance that any country that wishes to conduct research or any other study in the Philippine Rise would first need to secure approval of the Philippine government through the National Security Adviser,” Roque said.
China was one of the countries which conducted marine research and studies before Duterte ordered the cessation of all activities in the Philippine Rise on Feb. 6 this year.
In 2012, the United Nations awarded the resource-rich underwater plateau of the 13-million hectare PH Rise located east of Isabela as an extension of the Philippines’ continental shelf. (PNA)
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