Want to stand up to China? Develop nuclear weapons, Enrile says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 15) — If the country wants to enforce its victory over China in an international tribunal, then it should develop nuclear weapons, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said.

"You want to match China? Develop your nuclear weapons like North Korea," Enrile told CNN Philippines' The Source on Monday.

Enrile said the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant built during the Marcos administration had an accompanying plan to develop nuclear weapons as well.

"Plinano namin 'yun para magkaroon tayo ng nuclear weapon para hindi tayo inaapi nang maski sino, kaya nating manindigan. Eh manindigan tayo ngayon, ano gagamitin natin? Kwitis?" Enrile said.

[Translation: We planned that so that we can have a nuclear weapon so that we are not bullied by anyone and we can stand up for ourselves. But if we stand up now, what would we use? Firecrackers?]

The Constitution states that the country adopts and pursues "a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory." The country is also a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty.

Meanwhile, it has been reported by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency that China "invests considerable resources to maintain a limited, survivable nuclear force that can guarantee a damaging retaliatory strike."

Enrile said if the Philippines has the money to develop nuclear weapons, no one would have been able to stop it.

"If Iran, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea and even Cuba, before, could do it, if we went through it, I don't think they could have stopped us," he said.

In the meantime, as China continues its advance in the South China Sea and refuses to recognize the 2016 international tribunal award, Enrile said the country can negotiate with the East Asian giant.

Close to 400 Chinese vessels have been spotted close to Philippine-occupied Pag-asa island in the first quarter of the year. Pag-asa is the seat of Kalayaan municipality under Palawan province. Manila has protested the presence of Chinese vessels.

Despite protests, China continues to assert that Spratlys is theirs, while the Philippines says otherwise.