By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter

THE Philippines will not stand a chance in a war with China, President Rodrigo R. Duterte reiterated anew, but this time before an audience of Japanese businessmen on Friday.

“My country is very small, it has progressed a little, but I cannot afford a war with anybody, not only with China. The moment I send out my marines beyond six kilometers, they will all be wiped out,” President Duterte said in his speech at the 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Japan.

The President was tackling the ongoing issue on the West Philippine Sea and the increasing presence of Chinese vessels in the Philippines’ economic zone.

The Department of Foreign Affairs previously said it had issued notes verbales, asserting the Philippines’ claim, but opposition lawmakers have urged the government to take a stronger stand.

Sought for comment, University of Santo Tomas political science professor Marlon M. Villarin said “I think the President does recognize the fact that war is inevitable, we must plan and be ready for it. For now let us all be reasonable in all our actions in dealing with WPS issues, it may escalate more serious problems to our national interest.”

“And that message also goes that, until we are militarily capable of fully asserting our territorial rights, diplomacy is the only option left to us in engaging China,” Mr. Villarin said in a mobile phone message, Friday.

Mr. Duterte also said, “If I get a chance to visit Beijing again, I’ll try to talk to President Xi Jinping.”

“I love China, it has helped us a bit, but it behooves upon us, is it right for a country to claim the whole of the ocean?”

He also proposed that a country that is not identified with the United States should reach out to China.

“Before anything else, it will do us well maybe on a higher ministerial level to talk about this and try to prod China,” he said. “But there has to be somebody not identified with any country that China does not like because there will never be a sort of America (and) China talking seriously about territories.”