Duterte says he'll be 'frank' with China on addressing issues in Asia

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(File photo) President Rodrigo Duterte

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 7) — On the eve of his trip to Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, President Rodrigo Duterte spoke before an audience of Philippine Marines about the evolving geopolitical situation in the region.

In his speech at the 67th birthday celebration of the Philippine Marines Tuesday. the President stopped short of dropping hints on the issues he will be tackling during his bilateral talks particularly with China, saying instead, "I'll be frank with China."

He earlier talked about our country's claims to the disputed territories in South China Sea, reiterating his status quo stance on the issue and not provoking China and other claimant countries.

"China is not the only power that is claiming a part of the China Sea," he said.

"Taiwan has a claim and it overlaps the northern part of the country, 'yung ating economic zones [our economic zones]. And Vietnam has another idea of what is his or her, and Malaysia; and they will start really to pile up," Duterte added.

He said, "I am tempted to tell you something of my theory but, you know, I'm going to APEC tomorrow and we'll have the bilaterals. But I'm sure, I think some of the military men will go there. It would be at that time that I'd be frank with China also. I know where she's going, the direction and…laro ito ng geopolitics [this is a game of geopolitics]."

Duterte also acknowledged the U.S., China, Russia, and Israel for supporting the government's offensive against the Maute in Marawi.

"Out of gratitude, of course, the United States for rendering us the equipments. China, for giving us the arms, also the Soviet Union, si President Putin, also contributed and may – Israel. And the others who lent us the equipments that needed really to win the war," he said in his speech.

And despite having previously spoken harshly against the U.S., Duterte said the country remains to be "the best of friends" with the country "who helped us for the longest time."

Honoring troops who fought in Marawi

Tuesday's ceremony became an emotional tribute for Marine troops who were killed in various missions in Mindanao and Palawan.

Thirty-five troops died in Marawi, while close to 400 others were wounded.

Earlier, the President announced he was allocating P500 million to the Defense Department to serve as a sort of seed money to help injured soldiers - especially those who have been handicapped by their injuries.

READ: Duterte: ₱500-million fund for soldiers injured, disabled in Marawi war

He also revealed plans to build homes for soldiers.

"I have taken steps to really, not reward, but do something substantial for our soldiers," he said.

He said he has ordered the National Housing Authority to "find a lot somewhere here and to build the houses for those who are wounded and those who are unfortunately, pardon the word, they say...disabled."

Duterte said the location of the housing development would give the injured soldiers better access to hospitals which will help them in their recovery.

The President also reiterated that soldiers, policemen, and other members of the security force, will have their salaries doubled by January.