President Rodrigo Roa Duterte attends the joint National Task Force-Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-RTF ELCAC) VII meeting at the JPark Island Resort and Waterpark in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu on March 31, 2022. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Apr 1 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping wanted to speak with him.

In a speech in Lapu-Lapu City, Duterte said he was scheduled to speak to Xi on April 8. He did not mention whether their conversation would be over the phone or a face-to-face meeting.

“I’m scheduled to…April 8. Gusto ako kausapin ni Xi Jinping. Magkaigan man kami (Xi Jinping wants to speak to me. We’re friends),” he said.

He did not also give further details about what would be discussed between them.

In several speeches, Duterte has expressed willingness to visit China to personally thank Xi for China’s donated Covid-19 vaccines.

He earlier described China’s vaccine donation as a “gesture of friendship and solidarity”, which to him is the hallmark of the Philippine-China partnership.

Duterte’s last trip to China was in August 2019. It was where he raised the Philippines’ 2016 arbitral victory against China’s sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea (SCS).

China has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the Philippines’ historic victory at The Hague.

Won’t sit idly

Meanwhile, Duterte reiterated his warning that if Russia decides to use nuclear weapons during its invasion of Ukraine, “China would not sit idly.”

“I also realize na kung magkagiyera talaga (that if it will be a full-scale war), it will spill over. Pag ang Russia ang unang magtira (If Russia attacks) then there’s gonna be a serious problem. Ang China will not just sit idly there. Babanat din siya, kukunin niya ang Taiwan (It will also attack, it will take over Taiwan),” he said.

He said this incident could spell trouble for the Philippines.

“Ang problema ang Pilipinas tatamaan din tayo if there’s a full-scale war kasi mayroong mga Amerikano dito (The problem is the Philippines will also take a hit if there’s a full-scale war because there are Americans here),” he added.

Duterte said the Philippines will not deploy troops to assist if the US intervenes in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“I will never, never commit the Armed Forces ko, sundalo ko (my soldiers), to go to war. We are not even connected, however big or small,” he said.

Earlier, Malacañang said Duterte may mediate in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, should world leaders ask.

Despite this, Duterte has repeatedly said the Philippines will remain neutral amid the crisis. (MNS)

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