The South China Sea dispute between the Philippines and China is far from over now that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte issued a stern warning against China of “bloody” confrontation should the latter insist on ignoring the ruling of the UN-backed tribunal in The Hague.
On Tuesday, the Philippine president warned Beijing that the Philippines won’t back down if China invades the Philippines and claims that The Hague ruling is a failure, Manila-based newspaper Inquirer reported.
“I guarantee to them that if they invade our country, it would be bloody. And we will not give it to them easily. It would be the bones of our soldiers, include my own but we will not allow any country to invade the Philippines,” Duterte was quoted as saying by the Inquirer.
Duterte was actually referring to China’s continued reclamation activities in parts of the West Philippine Sea, despite the court’s ruling that virtually declared China’s nine-dash line rule illegal.
Duterte asked what China really wants when it continues to snub the court’s ruling, especially when it is aware that countries other than the Philippines would also be using the same ruling to assert claims in the region.
Tension Building up in South China Sea
It can be recalled that in 2013, the Philippines lodged a maritime dispute case against China over its encroachment in the West Philippine Sea. Apart from the Philippines, other countries have overlapping claims over the region, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, among others.
Duterte reiterated that the Philippines will do everything to assert sovereignty in the contested zone, where at least $5 trillion worth of goods pass through each year. In a separate report from the Philippine Star, Duterte said there would be a day of reckoning when the Philippines would invoke the July 12 ruling the Permanent Court of Arbitration.