Duterte Acknowledges He Can’t Concede Sea Claims to China


MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine president acknowledged Sunday that he can be impeached if he concedes his country’s territorial claims in the South China Sea in talks with President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders this week in Beijing.

President Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech before leaving for Brunei and China that while he will not bargain the Philippines’ territorial claims, “there will be no hard impositions” as he tries to renew his nation’s strained friendship with China and intensify two-way trade and investment.

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who has done extensive studies on the territorial conflict, warned last week that conceding the Philippines’ sovereign rights in the disputed waters is a ground for the president’s impeachment.

Carpio said that China may ask the Duterte administration to acknowledge Chinese sovereignty in contested South China Sea territories before agreeing to any business deals or joint exploration of potential sea resources.

Asked to react to Carpio’s warning, Duterte said he agreed with him.