By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte asked the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Philippine Marines to patrol around the islands in the West Philippine Sea near Batanes to ensure that they will “remain ours.”
Duterte made the statement as he led the situation briefing in the municipality of Itbayat on the series of earthquakes that shook Batanes early Saturday.
In his remarks, Duterte said that the Department of Defense (DND) may tap the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to patrol the islands in the West Philippine Sea.
“You might want to ask the Coast Guard to – pumunta dito, mag-istambay lang, palit-palit lang (drop by from time to time), to patrol the island from time to time. Not every day but just to assure that those islands will remain ours,” he said.
“And whatever is ours it should be the — it should be very clear to everybody that it is ours,” he added.
According to the President, he will not allow even a can of black sand to be taken from Philippine shores.
“Bantayan ninyo ‘yan. Ayan (You need to watch out for that), I will not surrender even one can of earth, hindi ako papayag (I will not allow it). Especially, [the] mining of our shores, itong, there’s a component yung sand, black sand,” he said.
“Kaya sabi ko (That’s why I said) I need to patrol the area once in a while. For all I know, nandoon ako, tapos nakatalikod tayo lahat (while we have our backs turned), they’re already mining at the back,” he added.
Duterte also reiterated that he cannot risk going to war against China since it will not end well for the Philippines.
“If we insist it could only mean war and we are not prepared. We will not win a war with China,” he said.
“Maybe it will be vacant again and we will go back to claim what is ours. But for me to go there and start to take a very pugnacious or a very hostile attitude would only give us nothing but sorrow,” he added.
The President also said that he wants the military to go to strategic points in the West Philippine Sea to overlook the islands that the Philippines has not claimed yet.
“I’d like the military to do that. Maybe the Marines because… Marines naman are, you are known to endure loneliness. Do not worry, I will visit you,” he said.
Meanwhile, Duterte also proposed the expansion of the runways in Itbayat and Basco in Batanes for national security purposes.
“It could be a very crucial factor in the days to go. Not in our generation but … It will be good if we are prepared,” he said.
“We have to defend those islands there, you have to have a launching deck somewhere here,” he added.