MALACAÑANG on Monday, August 5, confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte would make another trip to China within August.
If it pushes through, it will be Duterte's fifth visit to China since he assumed office in 2016.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in his regular press conference, said it will be a working visit. However, no dates have been set yet.
"It's a working visit. If it's working, then it refers to discussion of issues that affect both, issues that will benefit both, issues of conflict, issues of cooperation, issues of support especially with respect to terrorism, fighting drugs, cultural exchanges and financing," he said.
On which country initiated the visit, Panelo said he had no information.
"He (Duterte) didn't mention anything. He mentioned (the visit) but he didn't say na sya ang gustong pumunta or inimbitahan sya (that he initiated the visit or he was invited)," the official said.
Panelo said the dispute over the West Philippine Sea and the allision between a Chinese vessel and a Filipino fishing boat near the Recto Bank might come up during talks with China's President Xi Jinping.
"That could be part of the discussion," Panelo said.
There is no confirmatio yet on whether the President will watch the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Asked on the status of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Philippines and China, Panelo said the Palace is waiting for the report of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin.
"We're waiting for the report of Secretary Locsin. That could be part of the discussion," he added.
On a newspaper report about Chinese investors eyeing three islands in the Philippines, Panelo said the Palace will wait for advice from National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon or Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Lorenzana has told reporters that he will check whether this will have implications on national security.
"Then we will wait for his (Lorenzana) advice," Panelo said.
The plan to visit China again comes more than a month after the Recto Bank incident, where a Chinese vessel rammed a Filipino-owned fishing boat and abandoned 22 Filipino fishermen at sea.
Duterte went on a four-day state visit to China in October 2016. Seven months later, or in May 2017, he again went to Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Forum.
He embarked on a working visit to Hong Kong and China and attended the Boao Forum for Asia in April 2018.
A year later, in April 2019, he attended the 2nd Belt and Road Forum in China. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)