Duterte asserts arbitral ruling on South China Sea not during his term


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 21) — President Rodrigo Duterte again denied it was during his term when an international tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines over claims in the South China Sea.

“It did not come during my term, ‘yung award. Excuse me. Hindi sa panahon ko ‘yan, nandiyan na ‘yan pagdating ko or two days after,” Duterte said in a speech at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu on Saturday.

[Translation: It did not come during my term, the award. Excuse me. It wasn’t during my time. It has been there when I arrived or two days after.]

The ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague was made on July 12, 2016, about two weeks into Duterte’s term as President after his inauguration on June 30 of the same year.

However, Duterte said even if were the President then, he would not be able to do much to enforce it.

“If I were President at the time, anong magawa ko [what can I do]? I can send my Marines there. I can send every police there. But what will happen? They will all be massacred,” he said.

Duterte said Chinese forces have been using the Spratly Islands as their “mainland.”

“Sabi ko, because nang nandiyan na, ipinapakita nila are the current ano [I said, right now, what they are showing are], the contemporary bombers pati fighters. But beyond the shores there at the back, nandoon ‘yung mga hypersonics nila ngayon [their hypersonics are there now] and it can reach Manila in seven minutes,” he said.

This was not the first time Duterte incorrectly said the ruling was issued during the presidency of Benigno Aquino III.