PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said he was aware of the meeting that transpired between former president Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping and expressed hope his predecessor would help establish a new line of communication for the resolution of outstanding issues between the two countries.
Speaking at the side of the kickoff of the government’s Food Stamp Program (FSP) in Tondo, Manila, Marcos insisted that Duterte did not need his permission to go to Beijing as the meeting is “between friends,” but would welcome any input from the former leader in the coming days.
“I knew that he was going to go there. They are friends, they know each other. So, I hope they were able to talk about issues we are facing now like shadowing and other things. All of these things that we are seeing now, I hope they were able to talk about it so we could achieve progress. Because that’s what we are after, for talks to continue,” he told reporters in Filipino, referring to the recent sighting of dozens of Chinese vessels near Iroquois Reef, south of oil- and gas-rich Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea.
The Chief Executive insisted it doesn’t matter who initiates talks between the two claimants of the disputed waterway, as he welcomes “any new lines of communication”.
“If that is PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte), then good. It’s not important to me who that will be. As long as there will be someone who can help. I am sure that he will be able to tell us what happened during their conversation and see how that affects us,” he said.
The Philippines recently marked the seventh anniversary of the international arbitral ruling trashing China’s expansive claims over the South China Sea based on its nine-dash line.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila, to this day, refuses to recognize the decision, calling it a “violation of the Unclos (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and general international law” and is”illegal, null, and void.” — Kristina Maralit
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