Duterte has dared the US to send its seventh fleet, which is stationed in Japan, into the disputed sea in a bid to push back China’s claims on the strategic waterway. The President added his navy would follow the US into the conflict, CNN reported. The US and the Philippines operate under a Mutual Defence Treaty and will support each other in an attack by an external party.
Duterte told reporters on Monday: “When they enter the South China Sea, I will enter.
“I will ride with the American who goes there first.
“I will invite Carpio, Del Rosario, Morales to ride with me. Then I will tell the Americans, ‘Okay, let’s bomb everything’.”
His comments come after he encouraged the US to “fire the first shot” during a speech in Leyte last Friday.
READ MORE: South China Sea: Philippines made shocking agreement with Beijing
The US conducted a series of freedom of navigation operations to challenge Beijing’s maritime claims.
Duterte’s dare follows his informal agreement with China’s Xi Jinping.
Beijing agreed to stop blocking Filipino fishermen from Scarborough Shoal as long as the Chinese would have access to Recto Bank.
Duterte has since defended his decision to give Beijing a free pass.
He came under heavy criticism for allegedly violating Section 2, Article 12 of the Philippine Constitution after he allowed Chinese fishermen free reign in their waters.
The article in question reads: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”
The Philippines and China have been in a dispute since Chinese vessels reportedly surrounded the Spratly Islands.
China was then accused of ramming a Philippine fishing vessel which then sunk on June 9.