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Duterte stands firm on ‘occupy’ order for AFP in West PH Sea: We’ll end up with nothing if we don’t act

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President Rodrigo Duterte may have backed out of his plan to plant the Philippine flag on Pag-asa Island, but he is adamant about his orders to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to occupy about 10 islands in the disputed South China Sea.

Speaking before businessmen in Qatar, Duterte also offered possible mining agreements in the Middle East despite ongoing conflict over at the South China Sea.

“We know that we can offer you so many things from the bounties of the Earth. We have mining, we have everything, ore, uranium, and the South China Sea which is being contested by so many countries,” he said.

Duterte justified his order to inhabit the islands within Philippine territory to protect it from invasion, especially in the wake of China’s aggressive activities in the area. He earlier said he will put a Philippine flag at the Pag Asa island during the Independence Day celebration on June 12 but he has reportedly cancelled it to avoid upsetting China.

“But with the movement of people there occupying the lands, I ordered my military to occupy the remaining 10 islands who are not inhabited, place our flag there, put some structures, and I said last week I claim these islands as property of the Philippines. It’s because everybody is grabbing every land there in the South China Sea. So if we do not act fast, we will end up with nothing,” he said.

Duterte asserted Philippine’s sovereignty at the Benham Rise amid reports that Beijing has sent missions in the underwater plateau.

“And so on the right side there is the Benham Rise and it was claimed after an American who discovered the place. Nobody discovers the sea. Everybody has cede the sea. If you start claiming there you are crazy. So I renamed it the “Philippine Ridge”, and I announced to all including to America that this is ours. Do not come here,” he said.