Duterte to China: Treat Filipinos like brothers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte called on Chinese nationals to treat Filipinos like brothers.

This appeal was made in the presence of Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua who attended the Heroes Day ceremonies led by Duterte at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Monday.

"The Chinese people this time might find a place in their hearts for the Filipinos," Duterte said.

He added, "There's a Chinese blood in me, so I hope you treat us your brothers, not your enemies and take note of the plight of our citizens."

Duterte said that though China has “so much superiority” considering the number of ships they have, treating each other as brothers would help them understand the plight of the fishermen.

“That’s why there are there because they are poor,” Duterte told the ambassador.

Backchannel talks with China led by former President Fidel V. Ramos are ongoing after he was designated special envoy to China.

The President reiterated his stance that he will remain silent on The Hague ruling for now and will only insist on it when he sits down with Chinese officials.

He said discussing the matter in an improper venue could lead to suspension of talks with China.

Addressing the Chinese ambassador, Duterte said he will not use the ruling now, but one day he would have to bare his position on the matter.

"This paper, I cannot get out of the four corners of this document. The arbitral judgment," Duterte said.

Also read: Duterte eyes 'goodwill visit' to China

'Let's keep talking'

Although there is no exact date yet for the talks, Foreign Affairs secretary Perfecto Yasay earlier told CNN Philippines the President is eyeing a trip to China before the end of the year.

After a four-hour meeting with the Chinese Ambassador last week, Duterte said he would like the Philippines to continue reaching out to China through bilateral talks over the South China Sea dispute.

The President said he is trying to avoid a conflict with the superpower.

However, Duterte also reiterated he will insist that China respect the arbitral court's ruling in favor of the Philippines.

CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent David Santos contributed to this story.