President Duterte said that it will benefit the country’s economic development if the government could reach a settlement with China following the July 12 ruling of the United Nations tribunal on the South China Sea issue.
“If we can just have a settlement with them despite the arbitral (court’s) judgment, I think that marami tayong benefits na makuha,” Duterte said in his remarks during a visit to a six-megawatt biomass power plant project in Buluan, Maguindanao.
He revealed plans to establish industrial zones throughout the country, with China an “easy market” for such move.
“That they will come here and we are planning to establish economic zones, including farm-to-market roads,” he said, adding that China has the money. “So, I really pray that we are be able to settle,” he added.
In another event in Maguindanao also last Friday, the President said he would tap former Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan III to the Philippines’ special envoy to China if former President Fidel V. Ramos turns down the offer.
“Kung magsabi si President Ramos na ‘di na niya kaya, I’ll appoint Alunan. Mahusay ‘yon,” Duterte said, noting that Alunan is an Air Force reserve officer with the rank of colonel.
“Yun na lang ang pampalit. He knows his business,” the President further said of the former DILG secretary.
The President had earlier asked Ramos to go to China and “start the talks,” following the ruling of UN Permanent Court of Arbitration favoring the Philippines in its maritime case against Beijing.
He emphasized that “war is not an option.” (Elena L. Aben)