MANILA, Philippines – After keeping mum on the Recto (Reed) Bank “hit-and-run” incident involving a Filipino fishing boat and a Chinese vessel last June 9, President Rodrigo Duterte finally broke his silence more than a week later.

In a speech at the celebration of the Philippine Navy anniversary on Monday, June 17, Duterte dismissed the incident as a “little maritime accident” that should be investigated first before taking drastic military action on the part of the Philippines.

Image from Philippine Navy Facebook page

“‘Yung nangyaring banggaan, that is a maritime incident. ‘Wag kayong maniwala diyan sa mga politiko, b0b0, gusto papuntahin ‘yung Navy,” the President said.

[The collision that happened, that is a maritime incident. Don’t believe these stupid politicians who want the Navy sent there.]

Duterte also sees no need to send ‘gray ships’ to the area, referring to the Philippine Navy troops; reiterating that the incident was simply a ‘collision of boats’.

“Do not make it worse because that is a fertile ground for [war]… Alam ninyong mga sundalo, miscommunication ‘yan [ You soldiers know, it was a miscommunication],” the President explained

“And we are not yet as ready, and we can never be ready in  nuclear war, because … kung bitawan lahat ‘yan, earth will dry up and we will all be destroyed,” he added.

Not issuing an official statement

The commander-in-chief further reiterated he will not issue any official statement on the ‘hit-and-run’ incident which left 22 Filipino fishermen floating at sea in the Recto Bank before they were eventually rescued by a Vietnamese vessel.

The Chinese crew involved reportedly abandoned the Filipinos and never tried to rescue them, which many experts deemed as a violation of maritime protocol.

“And I do not now issue statement because there is no investigation and there is no result. Then the only thing we can do is wait and give the other party the right to be heard. That is important,” he said.

A little maritime accident

He also urged the Philippine Navy to ‘stay out of trouble’ and ‘just build on our own’, and not interfere just yet.

“Do not allow a little maritime accident, or intentional, (make us) go to war,” he added. “Pahinga ka muna. Pahinga muna kayo (Go and get some rest).”

Image from Ronwaldo Reyes Facebook post

Duterte drew flak from his critics after keeping silent for days following the incident.

But the chief executive defended his silence; saying he is is not a ‘stupid president’ who will go there and create tension between China and the Philippines.

He added that if we are to perish, it is imperative that such will happen in the correct way and with dignity.

Watch President Duterte’s speech: (Video from Balitang Nayon You Tube account)