July 8, 2021

‘We don’t cultivate friends in the hopes of receiving anything from China.’

President Rodrigo Duterte disputed on Wednesday that his government has made friends with China because of the benefits the East Asian country may provide.

“They [China] promised assistance. It’s great that help is on the way. If not, it’s OK with me (it’s well with me), since we don’t create friends based on what they can offer us. That is inexcusable. In a meeting with his PDP-Laban party colleagues, he remarked, “We make friends because we simply want to be friends.”

Duterte expressed his appreciation to China once again for supplying the Philippines with Covid-19 vaccinations, some of which were given out for free.

He said that Sinovac Covid-19 vaccinations from China were the first to arrive in the country in February.

“Be grateful if your buddy is nice to you. We didn’t have vaccinations when this contagion started, kaganda nga nang pag-umpisa nitong contagion (We didn’t have vaccines when this contagion started). “Sila ang unang nakapagbakuna (they were the first to be vaccinated),” he said, referring to other wealthy countries that had achieved the pinnacle of their technology.

Relations between the Philippines and the United States

Despite developing stronger connections with China, Duterte insists that he has not “abandoned” his relationship with the United States (US).

“I never abandoned our ties with the United States of America. “Wala naman akong sinabing masakit sa kanila (I never said anything to harm them),” he added, emphasizing his independent foreign policy of being “friend to everyone, enemy to none.”

He went on to say that if war breaks out, the Philippines will be placed at grave risk, given that the US is closest to Chinese bases in the South China Sea (SCS).

“The Filipinos must understand that the Americans are here not to protect us, but because this is the battlefield for them. So nandito sila (This is where they will fight.) They’re here) because, rather than battling it out in California, they’d rather do it in the Philippines,” he said.

Scarborough’s Demise

Duterte also laid fresh responsibility on the previous government for the Scarborough Shoal’s loss only two days after former Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV’s 16th trip to China.

“They (China) are not there because they claim to want to expand their borders. They’re there because they claim ownership and claim that it’s theirs. We also claim it, but the Scarborough Shoal is no longer ours. Because of the previous government, Ang Scarborough Shoal was lost,” he stated.

In 2012, China took control of the Scarborough Shoal after a contentious standoff in which it denied Filipino fishermen access to the region.

Following US involvement, the Aquino government removed the country’s ships from the shoal, while China chose to retain its ships in the vicinity, thus seizing possession of the shoal.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, rejected Beijing’s nine-dash line claim over the disputed seas on July 12, 2016, giving the Philippines victory in its arbitration lawsuit against China. China has refused to accept the arbitral decision.

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