By Zion del Rosario


President Rodrigo Duterte stated that China asks nothing in return for the vaccines it donated to the Philippines except for one thing, during his weekly Talk to the People.

“No strings attached ang China. Until now, walang hiningi ’yang China sa akin masque ball pen. Walang pakiusap, wala lahat. Except that their boats are there,” he said in connection to the disputed West Philippine Sea.

China also donated the first supply of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines, with the help of its home-grown Sinovac Biotech, manufacturing one million CoronaVac doses, as well as 10,000 doses from Sinopharm.

(Translation: No strings attached to China’s donation. Until now, they did not ask for anything from me, even a ball pen. They did not ask me any favor. Except that the boats are there.)

In retaliation, he sent in Philippine ships to face Chinese vessels within the disputed West Philippine Sea.

“Sabi ko naman, sinabi ko na ako rin. Sabi ko, maglagay ako,” he said.

(Translation: Then I said, I said I will too. I said, I will put ships.)

“Sabi ko, ‘I want my ships also there.’ I did not want war with anybody, not with China, lalo na América kasi nandito sila sa lupa natin. Pero as a feature or semblance of our claim, mayroon tayong mga barko diyan at saka hindi ko na papaalisin ’yan,” he added.

(Translation: I said, “I want my ships also there.” I do not want war with anybody, not with China, especially America because they are here on our land. But as a feature or semblance of our claim, our boats are there and I will not make them leave.)

This comes amid deciding to continue the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which ensures the United States military troops to base in the country, which has a vital role in mediating between disputed waters.