PH to keep cordial ties with China: Palace
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — The Philippines will maintain friendly diplomatic relations with China, as it upholds its claim over the islands in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Malacañang said.
During the pilot episode of “The Virtual Presser” on April 15, its guest, Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, Secretary Salvador Panelo, said the Duterte administration will keep friendly ties despite recent strong statements against China over the disputed group of islands in the WPS.
“We’re still friendly, cordial while we are asserting our rights, we maintain our friendly relations with them,” Panelo said.
President Rodrigo Duterte last week told Beijing to “lay off” on Pag-asa (Thitu) island, asking not to touch them. At about the same time, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the government has filed a diplomatic protest against China over the group of islands.
Panelo added that Manila will still assert the Hague arbitration that ruled in favor of the Philippines.
“We have an arbitral ruling and it is an irreversible judgment and we are maintaining our sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea. And we do not perform any, that might endanger or risk the security of our fishermen who are fishing in the area, as well as affect future bilateral relations between the two countries,” Panelo added.
“We have made our position very clear, we have made diplomatic protests vis-a-vis any action that we feel is not consistent with our sovereignty and our rights over the exclusive economic zones. And we shall wait with the response by the Chinese government,” he said.
Panelo also noted that the Balikatan exercise between the US and the Philippines had nothing to do with disputing China over the sea.
Moreover, he said that Duterte will attend the Belt and Road Forum in China next week.
“We hope that there will be discussions that will reach certain agreements and forge satisfactory solutions to the mutual problems that we have. And at the same time, we hope that the relations between the two countries are further strengthened, especially the part of trade relations between the two of us,” he said.
He expressed hope that by that meeting, relations between the two countries will be strengthened and hopefully by way of negotiations, a satisfactory solution that confronts both countries relative to the South China Sea problem will be forged.
The Virtual Presser is the first-ever online video platform of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, in partnership with RTVM. The program aims to relay accurate information directly to the international media and foreign audiences.
The PCOO Office of the Global Media Affairs has been tasked to connect Philippine government policymakers with the international media, and to promote priority policy messages through engagements with foreign audiences. (PCOO)