MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte said he will educate his critics on the constitutionality of his fishing deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the West Philippine Sea during his State of the Nation Address later this month.
“Ang sabi nila na unconstitutional. Well, you wait maybe sa SONA I will educate people,” Duterte told reporters Monday.
“By any stretch of imagination hindi unconstitutional ang ginawa ko. As a matter of fact it is in keeping with the law. Wala akong kasalanan diyan sa Constitution, maniwala kayo," he added.
Duterte’s deal with Xi allows Chinese fishermen to fish within the Philippines exclusive economic zone, which critics and experts say violates the constitutional provision stating that the country’s marine resources should be used and enjoyed exclusively by Filipinos.
He again dared his critics and the United States to fire the first shot against China in the South China Sea.
“I want the 7th Fleet of the Armed Forces of the United States there pasok sila sa China sea, magpasok ako. I will ride dun sa Amerikano na mauna na, I will invite Carpio, Del Rosario, Morales to ride with me. Then sabihin ko sa Amerikano, 'Sige pasabugin na natin lahat.' Yan man ang gusto nila away talaga,” Duterte claimed.
“What will really result if I go there and insist on driving them out. Do you think that China will allow themselves to be bullied?” he added.
The President earlier slammed the United States for allegedly using him as bait against China in the South China Sea dispute.
The Philippines will wait for China to finish its own probe on the June 9 Recto Bank incident before taking the next steps on the case.
“We have our recommendations, we have our report then we will wait for China to make its report then we can compare notes,” Duterte said.
“And then kung sino yung in a better position to assert justice gawin nila yan, kung sila, magbayad sila,” he continued.
The Philippine Coast Guard-Marina investigation noted that the incident which almost killed 22 Filipino fishermen as "a serious marine casualty."
Duterte said that he agreed that the incident was serious, but defended his earlier claim that the sinking of the Filipino boat by a Chinese vessel was a minor maritime incident.
“It is a serious pero when you talk about marine transportation and all, it is a maritime incident and that is very small and nobody died,” Duterte said.