Philippine President Duterte talks to reporters on the issue of the Scarborough Shoal. (Photo : Getty Images)
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said that the "time will come" when China and the Philippines will discuss the issue of the South China Sea. However, Duterte did not specify when.
He said, "What will I do? Declare a war against China?"
The president admitted that if the U.S. is not able to stop China from militarizing the Scarborough Shoal, then there is no way that the Philippines can stop Beijing's plans.
Recent reports from the Hainan Daily revealed that China is building an environmental research facility in the disputed shoal, which is only 230 kilometers from the Philippines' most populous island.
The Philippine president said that his government is unable to assert any U.N. declaration on the South China Sea and comment on the reported photos of the Scarborough Shoal bases.
He said, "We cannot assert even a single sentence of any provision that we signed."
"There will be a time in my term when I will bring the issue back to the table on the four square of the arbitral ruling and it will come," he said.
"When? When they shall start to tinker with entitlements," he noted.
Duterte said that once China and Russia start provoking Filipino coast guards, then the tone of the negotiations will change. As for now, the passage of ships on the shoal is harmless, according to the president.
"We are now improving the economy because of the help of China. Why will you be so shameless just because they are passing by?" he commented.
He warned China and Russia to not harm the coast guards. Once these countries "claim to own it, I claim it to be mine."
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that China should not touch the South China Sea because it does not belong to them.
Upon being sworn in, Tillerson compared China's moves on the disputed sea to Russia's invasion of Crimea. He said that the U.S. condones such acts of aggression.