President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said that he insisted during his meeting with Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, that the Scarborough Shoal belongs to the Philippines.
"Ang China ang sabi nila amin 'yan. Sabi ko amin man din 'yan," Duterte said in a speech during his visit to calamity-stricken Tuguegarao City in Cagayan.
In his speech in Isabela, Duterte said both he and Xi held their ground in claiming Scarborough Shoal, with the Chinese leader citing China's supposed historical claim while the Philippine leader presented the award of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
“Alam ko may problema tayong dalawang bansa dahil diyan sa [South] China Sea na inangkin ninyo na inyong lahat. Kami naman ay nanalo at sinabi na sa Pilipinas yan. But anyway, ang problema, ang sabi niya amin talaa ito historically at hindi kami bibigay dito. Sabi ko, lalo na kami, kasi kami ang nanalo sa korte,” Duterte said.
But Duterte avoided a confrontation with Xi, saying both leaders will discuss the territorial dispute in the future.
“Sabi niya na we can resolve this case peacefully nang walang away, walang dugo and it will take time. Okay lang, sabi ko, basta balang araw we will continue to talk and one day in the future pag-usapan talaga natin. Di naman pwede na hayaan na lang natin ito nakabitay,” he said.
“Sabi ko ito yung award namin, sabi ko balang araw, hindi tayo lalabas sa dokumentong ito sang-ayon na kami ang nanalo diyan sa pagmamamay-ari. Pero I will not insist now. I will not impose now. I will not go to war now. I will not waste the lives of my soldiers,” Duterte added.
While both sides insisted ownership of the shoal, he said China has agreed to allow Filipino fishermen to enter the territory, which the Philippines considers part of the territory of Masinloc town in Zambales province.
"Ang pagkaalam ko pinaalis na rin niya [Xi] iyong mga Chinese na fishermen para wala nang makita diyan. Iyon ang pinag-usapan namin," he said, but added that he was not sure if the Chinese will fulfill their promise.
He added: "We will just wait for a few more days, baka makabalik na tayo doon sa Scarborough Shoal.. [sa] pangingisda ng ating mga kababayan."
Duterte said that during his meeting with Chinese officials, he proposed that both countries keep off the shoal's inner lagoon, the spawning ground of the shoal that also serves as a safe haven for fishermen from tropical cyclones.
"Ako na mismo ang nagsabi kung makabalik tayo sa Scarborough, bilang may-ari, sila rin naman nagsabi na [sila ang] may-ari, ako na mismo magsabi na huwag kayong mangisda diyan [inner lagoon]," he said.
In his speech, Duterte told the city's typhoon-affected residents about China's granting of $24 billion (over P1 trillion) in soft loans to the Philippines.
He said he will use the fund to improve the country's agriculture industry and put up small "sari-sari" stores that will serve as financing centers for the poor communities.