PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said he is hoping that the Philippines and China will go back to the time when they can both fish in the disputed territorial waters of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) without any conflict.
Marcos said he brought up the matter to Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (Apec) Summit in San Francisco.
He said he thinks that Xi took his point well.
During the meeting, Marcos said they tried to come up with mechanisms to lower the tension in the South China Sea.
He said they both agreed that the present challenges in the West Philippine Sea should not be the sum of the two countries’ relationship.
“That’s essentially the message that we spoke of to each other, that we were in agreement that the problems that we have in South China Sea, with China, should not be the defining element of our relationship,” he said.
“But nonetheless, the problems remain and it is something that we will need to continue to communicate to find ways to avoid such incidents. And of course, as ever, whenever this issue comes up, I always bring up the plight of our fishermen,” he added.
Marcos requested a meeting with Xi once again to voice his concern about some of the incidents that were happening between Chinese and Philippine vessels, one of which resulted in a collision.
Philippine vessels have been experiencing harassment from Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in the Ayungin Shoal, where the latter has been constantly conducting resupply operations for the troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre.
Recently, a Chinese ship bombarded anew a Philippine ship with water.
Both the Philippines and China had maintained sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
China refused to recognize the arbitral ruling invalidating its claim in almost the entire WPS, affirming the rights of the Philippines in the said area.
It maintained that the Philippines should ask permission first from them before entering the area. (SunStar Philippines)