Manila cannot afford to go to war against Beijing to forcefully retake the Philippine territory it occupied in South China Sea, says President Rodrigo Duterte, during his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
“China is claiming it, we are claiming it. China has the arms, we do not have it so it’s simple as that. They are in possession of the property… it’s akin to they are in possession, so what can we do? We have to go to war, and I cannot afford it. Maybe some other President can, but I cannot,” said Duterte, who previously assured that the government “works without fail” in protecting Manila’s rights in the region through diplomatic means, “neither beholden nor a pawn to anyone”.
“We broaden the boundaries of Philippine diplomacy. We build productive ties with everyone willing to engage us on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and we redefined our relations with our most important partners, placing the country in a far better position to advance our interest in an evolving regional order and emerging global problems,” he added. (PNA)