By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday said he will tackle “lengthily” the disputes in the South China Sea at the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok.

Mr. Duterte made his remarks at the oathtaking of his son, Sebastian “Baste” Z. Duterte, as Davao City vice-mayor.

The President, who was scheduled to depart for Bangkok on Friday evening, said in his speech: “Ang tanong ko lang sa China, we’re friends. Pero ang China nag draw ng line dikit sa coastlines (My question for China, we are friends, but China has drawn a line close to the coastlines)…. Is it correct for China to declare ownership of an ocean?”

He added that if China can claim an entire ocean, then he can also claim the Sulu Sea and require all passersby to secure a permit from the Philippine government.

“I am thinking of claiming the Sulu Sea as ours. Wag kayong dumaan pagwala kayong permiso sa akin (Do not pass through the area without permission from me). I don’t mind if America will claim the Pacific Ocean…. That is the danger there. I will talk lengthily about this sa (at the) ASEAN,” he said.

He also said, “Simple lang (It is simple), can you claim an ocean as your own? Eh di (So,) I will claim mine…. That is what we will talk about tomorrow.”

On the June 9 Recto Bank incident, he reiterated that an investigation is necessary.

“We consider it a maritime incident and it should be investigated ng Coast Guard…. Hindi yung tatawagan mo yung…warships. You do not call the Navy pag walang gera (You do not call the Navy if there is no war),” he said.

“Hindi ako takot sa China. Takot ako na…walang kalaban laban tayo (I am not scared of China. I am scared that we’re no match…. Pero kung sabihing (But if you say that) America has the right to interfere, it becomes a bloody confrontation.”

He noted that China has committed to compensate if the incident was its fault.

“Why do we have to go into a convoluted argument. That is the problem. A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing. Not good,” he added.

He further said the incident was “not an attack on our sovereignty.”

“Kaibigan natin ang China, marami namang Chinese dito, pati pamilya ko Chinese. Pero ganito, ang problema ng China nag-draw siya ng nine dash line (China is our friend. There are many Chinese here anyway, even my family. But the problem is that China drew a nine-dash line [in the South China Sea]),” the President said.