By Deighton Acuin


The Philippines would send its warships if China started drilling for oil and other resources within the exclusive economic zone, President Rodrigo Duterte said.

Duterte also lashed out at critics anew over calls for him to confront China over its presence in the Philippine territory zones.

He added there is nothing would happen even if he went to West Philippine Sea "because we are not in the possession of the sea."

"I am addressing myself to the Chinese government. We want to remain friends... I'm not so much interested in fishing. There's not enough fish to quarrel about. But when we start to mine, get whatever it is that is in the bowels of the China Sea, by that time I will send my gray ships there to stake a claim," Duterte said during his public address on Monday night.

"Even if you go there and claim it, walang mangyayari, kanila talaga eh, sa isip nila kanila.”

"The issue of West Philippine Sea remains a question forever until such time that we can take it back... We can retake it only by force. There is no way that we can get it back... without any bloodshed," Duterte added.

The territorial dispute between the two countries rose anew over the presence of hundreds of Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef, with the continuous filing of diplomatic protests by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The National Task Force on West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) earlier reported the presence of six Chinese warships and 240 militia vessels over Kalayaan, Palawan and in the country’s EEZ.

The task force has also estimated that a total of 240,000 kilograms of fish will be illegally taken over the continued presence of the vessels.

Moreover, the DFA also called on Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian to discuss the growing concerns of spotted vessels along Julian Felipe Reef.