|Philippine President Duterte|
By Christina Mendez
MANILA, Philippines - No new weapons are being eyed for islets and land features in the West Philippine Sea over which President Duterte wants the military to exercise greater control.
The President made the clarification yesterday at the Davao International Airport shortly before departing for Saudi Arabia. His pronouncements came on the heels of Beijing’s voicing concern over his earlier statement that he had ordered the military to occupy at least nine islets and reefs under Philippine control.
“For the information of China, we will not place there any offensive weapons, not even one gun,” he said.
“We are just there to claim the island for us because that is really ours and I have ordered the AFP to build structures there to signify, atin ito (it’s ours),” he maintained, referring to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Reacting to Duterte’s order, Beijing had urged the President to “properly manage” the dispute over areas in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea.
Duterte explained he issued the order amid a “heightening of geopolitical issues” and stressed he did not want “to get involved in any war with nations.”
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