MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte said the United States is aware that waging a war against China over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal is "not worth it", stressing how its longtime ally failed to help the Philippines during its standoff with China in 2012.
Duterte recalled how the US brokered a deal asking the Philippines and China to withdraw their respective vessels in the area. The Philippines pulled out its vessels but China did not.
"America was scared. They knew that war about something so small is not worth it. Because if they hit us and America decides to help, it could trigger a world war. America knows it. Everybody does," Duterte said in a speech in Agusan del Norte on Sunday.
"If those nuclear bombs, atom bombs, and hydrogen bombs will explode, nothing will be left of this world. We would all be destroyed. So America said, both of you should retreat.' Del Rosario ordered our ship to retreat, but China refused to follow. That is why they filed a case," he added.
Duterte was referring to former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, who led the Philippines in its successful arbitration case against China before The Hague, Netherlands.
He said the US "did not do anything" emphasizing that if the Philippines opted to attack China, his soldiers and policemen would be "massacred."
The President also pointed out that it was wiser to stick to negotiations with China to resolve disagreements over the contested waters and its territories.
"We can't defeat them. So let's stick to just talking unless you want me to say, ‘O sige (Okay) I'll attack China. Who's with me?'" Duterte said.
Duterte said the Philippines could not rely on the US because it also had its own problems to resolve.
"Will America join us? They can't even resolve their problem with Iraq and Iran in the Middle East. They've been at war for a long time. But who won it? Nobody. Many lives were lost including those of civilians, children, the elderly, and the women. That's the story," he added.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it will be up to Duterte to determine whether he finds it necessary to seek help from the US.
Under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and US, the allies must provide aid in case of an armed attack against either Washington or Manila by an external party.
Panelo said allowing US to step in might have "repercussions" on the two countries. (PNA)