The Philippines president has warned China that if it drills for oil in disputed waters, he will send navy ships to the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines will not allow China to dig for oil and other resources there, Rodrigo Duterte said in a pre-recorded public address on Monday evening.
“I will send my gray ships there to state a claim if you start digging for oil, nickel, precious stones there. That would be the time that we should act on it,” he said.
He added that if China starts drilling for oil, the Philippines would start doing the same.
“Is that part of our agreement? And, if it is not part of our agreement, I want to drill for oil there as well. If you own it, I own it,” he said.
Later in the speech, Duterte softened his tone and suggested stopping quarrels over "fish."
"We want to remain friends. We want to share whatever it is. I am not so much interested now in fishing, I don't think there's so much fish to quarrel about," said the president.
Since last month, hundreds of Chinese fishing and militia ships have been crammed into the West Philippine Sea, which both countries claim as their own.
Manila has repeatedly filed diplomatic protests over the presence of the vessels, demanding Beijing to remove the ships.
By Devina Halim in Indonesia