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Duterte wants to travel to the West Philippine Sea as a tourist.

MANILA, Philippines — Despite knowing that it would be a “gamble,” outgoing President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced on Sunday that he intends to join the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on its visit to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as a civilian.

He said this during the commissioning of the Barko ng Pangulo ng Pilipinas (BRP) Melchora Aquino, the Philippine Coast Guard’s Multi-Role Response Vessel (MRRV) 9702, at Pier 15, South Harbor in Manila.

“Perhaps one day I’ll be able to ride with the Coast Guard to observe.” Even if I am already a civilian, I hope you will give me a little…) so you may invite me to ride with you…. There are no implications because I am a civilian (would be a civilian by then). And I might be able to join you on your trip to the West Philippine Sea. “It’s a risk,” he admitted.

Although Duterte accepted that China claims about 90% of the South China Region, he stated that the Philippines would never give up fighting for its sovereign rights in the disputed sea.

“You have to assert the —- what is ours at some point in our national existence…

President Xi Jinping, kaibigan ko kaibigan ko kaibigan ko kaibigan (is my friend). And in the many visits I’ve made over the years, we’ve discussed a lot. “However, I made it clear to him that we cannot relinquish sovereignty over the seas of the Philippine Sea, especially the exclusive economic zone, because they are critical to our national survival,” he continued.

Duterte defended the Philippines’ rights in the West Philippine Sea in fora such as the United Nations General Assembly in 2020 and 2021, despite criticism that his administration downplayed the Philippines’ sea conflict with China in exchange for economic gains.

Meanwhile, Duterte praised the PCG for assisting the government in “maintaining its independence and integrity as a republic” with a “outstanding record.”

He also lauded Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade for “husbanding” the PCG by launching the brand new capital ship BRP Melchora Aquino.

“We’ve come a long way in terms of progress. I am grateful for Arthur, especially the trains. Pasalamat ako kay kay kay kay kay kay kay kay kay kay kay kay kay kay kay kay We provided in our own humble way, sabi nga niya (he said),” he continued.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, dismissed Beijing’s nine-dash line claim to the South China Sea on July 12, 2016, giving the Philippines victory in its arbitration lawsuit against China.

China has refused to accept the arbitral decision.

Duterte stated once again that the Philippines could not afford a conflict with China.

“We can’t win, therefore we’ll lose, and the people will suffer as a result.” The Philippines would be in a difficult situation, unsure of how to navigate the geopolitical challenges in Europe and, specifically, Taiwan,” he said.

He expressed hope that the two countries might overcome their maritime dispute “by just talking.”

He went on to say, “There’s really no need to kill a human being.”

Melchora Aquino, BRP

The Commanding Officer and first watch or sentinel were given permission to “set the watch” that will begin BRP Melchora Aquino’s official duties as a commissioned vessel, and Duterte saluted the vessel.

“I thus commission BRP Melchora Aquino, commonly known as MRRV-9702, by the power vested in me as President of the Republic of the Philippines…” During the formal commissioning of the PCG vessel, Duterte said in his remarks.

MRRV 9702 is one of the two largest white ships acquired by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for the PCG through its Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project (MSCIP) Phase 2 for Melchora Aquino, also known as “Tandang Sora” and Mother of Katipunan.

It is prepared to perform continuous maritime patrols in all of the Philippines’ maritime territories, including the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Rise.

The MRRV 9702, like the BRP Teresa Magbanua (MRRV 9701), is based on the Japan Coast Guard’s Kunigami-class vessel, which has a maximum speed of 24 nautical miles per hour and a range of 4,000 nautical miles.

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