Partial and unofficial results put Rodrigo Duterte as the presumptive winner of the Philippine elections and that’s why his opinions and possible strategies now matter for the country. Now, according to the soon-to-be president, there is a solution to the South China Sea spat that has been keeping countries on their toes.
Duterte is the presumptive winner of the Monday elections in the Philippines. To that, many are already curious as to what the incoming president will do on the pressing issues the Philippines is currently faced with. One of the more pressing is South China Sea.
According to Duterte, if he becomes the president, he would be settling the South China Sea tensions through multilateral talks including allies such as the United States, Australia and Japan. He also added that China should honor the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone granted to coastal states with respect to international law.
“I would say to China, ‘do not claim anything here and I will not insist also that it is ours’. But then I will just keep (turn) a blind eye,” Reuters quoted Duterte as he talks to reporters about the partial voting results.
“If you want joint ventures, fine, we can get the gas and the oil,” he said. “I believe in sharing.”
Tensions have been high in the South China Sea especially because of the trade potential the region offers. The presumptive president also added that claimant countries should come together and talk.
“They would want a multilateral roundtable discussion, probably this year,” he said pertaining to Western countries.
“I do not think anyone is interested in going to war. Although we are allies with America, we will agree to, say, multilateral participation.”
However, another report from The Washington Post suggested that Duterte’s rise in power may actually raise more uncertainties in the disputed region. According to the report, the news that Duterte will take the presidency could have major implications since his critics remain uncertain on how he will handle domestic and international policy.
“Foreign relations has been a major gap in Duterte’s published platform to date, and he and his team have yet to publicly define their approach to the South China Sea,” the publication quoted Jay L. Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines’ Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.