Duterte says he might seek China’s help on COVID-19 outbreak

Duterte says he might seek China’s help on COVID-19 outbreak

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) – March 12, 2020 – 10:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday evening said he is open to accepting China’s offer of help amid the outbreak of COVID-19 if the situation in the country escalates.

“You know, President Xi Jinping…wrote me a letter and said that he is willing to help. All we have to do is to ask,” the president said in a speech.

“Ako ang tingin ko (In my opinion), maybe there will be a time if things deteriorate that I have to call on China to help.”

In the same address, Duterte declared a community quarantine of Metro Manila starting March 15 to April 14, subject to daily assessment.

RELATED: Travel to and from Manila suspended from March 15 as Code Red Sublevel 2 raised over COVID-19

Duterte highlighted the outbreak response efforts of China — the ‘ground zero’ of the virus that causes COVID 19, which has been reported in at least 118 countries and territories and has recorded almost 125,000 cases globally, according to the World Health Organization.

“He has said that we have managed the crisis very well in this country and he is very much willing to help kung kailangan (if needed),” the president said.

“So to the Chinese government, to the people, especially to president Xi Jinping, thank you for the consoling words. And maybe I hope it would not reach to that point, but maybe we will need your help. Salamat po (Thank you).”

China has maritime disputes in the resource-rich South China Sea with the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. Over $5 trillion in trade passes yearly through the waterway.

However, the Permanent Court of Arbitration on July 12, 2016, ruled that China’s “nine-dash line” territorial claim — literal dash marks in maps of China that allege its claim to around 80% of the South China Sea — has no basis in international law.

The president has also been hesitant to ban Philippine offshore gaming operators, which employ and target Chinese nationals, despite their alleged connection to a range of local issues from trafficking and prostitution to the recent “pastillas” bribery scheme.

“It gives us P2 billion a month. P2 billion… I need lots of money. That is only the POGO. But Pagcor is like P17 billion a year. Where do we get that?” Duterte said during the meeting of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines on Tuesday.

China in August 2019 had asked the Philippines to ban online gambling, saying it causes social problems.

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