President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said the Philippines couldn't be "rude and disrespectful" to China despite a festering row over reefs and outcrops.
Duterte did not name Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr., who said earlier in the day that China should just "get the f*ck out" of the Philippines EEZ or exclusive economic zone.
"China remains to be our benefactor and if I may just add something to the narrative, just because we have a conflict with China, doesn't mean to say that we have to be rude and disrespectful," Duterte said in his weekly address to the nation.
"As a matter of fact, we have many things to thank for China, for the help," he said.
Duterte said there should be "no reason for trouble" and Filipinos should be allowed to fish.
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Calling Beijing a "friend," Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. questioned what China is doing with its "friendship" with the Philippines as it refuses to heed Manila's call to pull out its ships from the West Philippine Sea.
"China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE F*CK OUT. What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We’re trying. You. You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend; not to father a Chinese province," Locsin said in a tweet.
"He doesn’t have a uterus. If he tried to give birth to a Chinese province it would be a ball of crap at best and the end of the regime," he added.
Manila said Monday it protested the "belligerent" actions of the Chinese coast guard against the Philippine Coast Guard in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), where it enjoys sovereignty and jurisdiction.
The DFA accused the Chinese ships of "shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver, and radio challenges" in the area on April 24 to 25. Bajo de Masinloc is a ring-shaped coral reef with rocks jutting out of the water, encircling a lagoon that is rich in fish.
While Bajo de Masinloc is within the Philippines' continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, China has had effective control over it since a 2012 naval standoff that served as one of the catalysts of Manila's legal challenge to Beijing's vast claims in the South China Sea. A UN-backed arbitral tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines but China refused to recognize it.