Duterte frowns on conduct of military drills in WPS

MANILA President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said it would not be wise to conduct military drills that would create frictions in the disputed West Philippine Sea (WPS).

No, because it's not military drills because I said China is already in possession. It's now in their hands. So why do you have to create frictions, military activity that will prompt a response from China? Duterte said in a media interview on the sidelines of the 33rd ASEAN Related Summits in Singapore.

Duterte said other countries, including the United States, should prevent a miscalculation of the situation amid overlapping claims in the WPS or South China Sea.

And all of these things, China is there. That's a reality and America and everybody should realize that they are there, Duterte said.

So if you just keep on creating friction, little friction, one day a bad miscalculation could turn things Murphy's Law. If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong, he added.

He said the Philippines will suffer if conflict will take place in the South China Sea.

I do not mind everybody going to war, except that the Philippines is just beside those islands. And if there's a shooting there, my country will be the first to suffer. That is my only national interest there. Nothing else, Duterte said.

Duterte said he will try his best to push for early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the WPS (COC) that will govern activities, and ensure peace and stability in the disputed territory.

I made a very strong statement yesterday (Wednesday) about the urgent need for a COC so that everybody will know. Because when you claim an ocean, the whole of it, then that is a new development in today's world, Duterte said.

So any sense, it would also change radical changes in the laws of governing international waters, particularly the right of free passage or the right of innocent passage, he added.

The Philippines has assumed the role as new Country Coordinator for the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency