By Roy Mabasa
The Philippines and China need not argue in public to show that the West Philippine Sea issue is not being handled, the Philippines’ top diplomat said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Just because we are not in an open shouting match with China, or arguing in public, doesn’t mean that the issues aren’t being dealt with decisively,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano emphasized.
“On the contrary, we are not only exerting efforts but also getting things done,” Cayetano said a day after the conclusion of the 2nd meeting of the bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea between Philippine and Chinese delegations.
According to Secretary Cayetano, the 2ND BCM is an important step towards resolving ongoing territorial disputes in a manner consistent with the spirit of friendship.
“This meeting has become an important step towards resolving ongoing disputes on territory, sovereignty, and sovereignty rights in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea, however, this bilateral consultation mechanism is also here to strengthen the momentum of cooperation in matters of common interest such as marine environmental protection, coordination between Coast Guards, and the protection of our fishermen, as well the possibility of joint exploration,” he said.
The foreign affairs chief noted that the BCM serves as a venue for the Philippines and China to manage their differences amicably, and to show the world how disputes can be handled in a peaceful manner, and how cooperation and collaboration can benefit the two countries’ peoples despite a complicated and difficult dispute.
“The Duterte Administration is unwavering in its commitment to protect our country’s territorial claims and maritime entitlements. Let me also say that we are also of the position that ongoing territorial disputes should be resolved in a manner consistent with the spirit of good neighborly relations and the 1982 UNCLOS,” said Cayetano.
Pursuant to the strategy of the Duterte administration of “friends to all and enemies to none,” Cayetano said the Philippines engages all countries whether claimant or non-claimant, whether we have a dispute with them or not, and this has led to much mutual trust and confidence and translated into gains in the disputed areas as well as in other areas of cooperation and collaboration.
He further stressed that there are ongoing talks and continuous diplomatic actions being undertaken to protect the interests of the Philippines in the South China Sea.