Duterte balancing act meant to avoid 'international crisis' with China: Palace

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 18 2019 03:32 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at a Philippine Navy base in Cavite City on June 17, 2019. Robinson Niñal, Presidential Photo

MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte is "treading cautiously" to address the allision between a Chinese ship and Filipino fishing boat to avoid an international crisis, his spokesman said Tuesday.

Duterte, a lawyer, is a "very cautious person" and is "trained to listen to all sides especially because there are adversarial claims," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

"He doesn't want this blown into an international crisis given the fact na alam mo, matagal din na nabago yung relasyon, from the time of the previous administration na masama ang relasyon and na-nurture nga ito naayos ni Presidente. Inaalagaan niya ito," he said.

(It took a long time before the relationship between the Philippines and China improved from the time of the previous administration until the President nurtured it again. He is taking care of it.)

Duterte called the weekend encounter near Reed Bank in the South China Sea a "maritime incident."

The Chinese embassy in Manila had downplayed the incident, saying the crew of trawler Yuemaobinyu 42212 "bumped into" the Filipino boat and then left due to safety fears.

It said the incident was not a "hit and run," as some Philippine authorities had claimed, because the Chinese crew "confirmed the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued."

Panelo said the President was also taking into account the welfare of Filipinos working in China and Filipino fishermen in Reed Bank, called Recto Bank by the Philippines.

"We can understand of course the outrage by our countrymen eh kasi lahat naman tayo na-outrage kasi nga yun ang dating sa atin sinadya, binangga. Natural magrereact nga tayo," he said.

(We can understand of course the outrage by our countrymen because all of us were really outraged because it appeared as if the incident was intentional. Of course, we will react.)

Panelo said the Philippines would wait for China's investigation into the Reed Bank incident.