By Deighton Acuin


President Rodrigo Duterte said that he asked for more COVID-19 vaccine supply from Chinese President Xi Jinping but there are no West Philippine Sea issues involved.

In his weekly address, Duterte stood firm on his previous remark the Philippines owed China a huge debt of gratitude and it is not an excuse for the government to sacrifice the country’s territorial waters.

"Ito for public consumption na ito. Tumawag ako kay President Xi Jinping, sinabi ko kasi noong kasagsagan ng walang dumating, walang makapkap si Secretary (Carlito) Galvez (Jr.), sabi ko, 'Mr. President (Xi), I would like to ask for your help until now Philippines is at a loss to get vaccines,'" Duterte said.

"It is never wrong to admit a debt of gratitude but it would be wrong as an excuse to maybe retreat. There will be no compromise. Alam ng China ‘yan.”

"Hindi ito kabayaran. Iba ito. This is Philippine national interest, this is not a health issue that nagpasalamat ako," the President added.

Earlier, Duterte said amid rising tension in territorial waters, it will not wage a war against the Chinese republic since the Philippines has a huge debt of gratitude.

"Sabi ko, I am stating for the record, we don’t want war with China. China is a good friend, mayroon tayong utang na loob na marami, pati na yung bakuna natin. So China, let it be known China is a good friend and we don’t want trouble with them especially with war," he said in his address on April 28.

Despite this, Malacañang has defended the Chief Executive, saying it does not mean the government will surrender its claims over the West Philippine Sea.