PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will not raise the country’s maritime dispute with Beijing when he visits China this week but it does not mean that he will compromise the Philippines’ position on the issue, Malacañanag said Saturday.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte will not discuss the dispute over certain areas in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“As far as I know, this is based more or less on an agreement, it may be economic. And in the words of the President, we want a soft landing. Although wala po tayong pinaplanong i-compromise na mga issues pero timing lang po ang lahat (we have no plans of compromising any issue, it will be just a matter of timing),” Abella said in a radio interview.
Duterte will hold bilateral meetings with President Xi on October 20. He will also meet National People’s Congress Chairman Zhang Dejiang and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
After their bilateral meeting, Duterte and Xi are expected to witness the signing of bilateral memoranda of understanding and agreement in various fields of cooperation.
“So we expect po na maganda po ang magiging resulta nito para sa atin (there will be good results for us). It will bring greater cooperation. It will bring in an economic increase,” Abella said.
Duterte’s China visit will be from October 18 to 21.
Two months ago, Duterte sent former president Fidel Ramos as his envoy to begin “icebreaker talks” with Chinese representatives in Hong Kong.
The initial talks led to Ramos extending the Philippines’ invitation to China to begin formal talks. The Chinese representatives reciprocated, inviting Ramos to Beijing.
Duterte has said that he will ask China to “give back” the fishing rights of Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea.
But last week, the President said he will not discuss the Scarborough shoal issue with Chinese leaders.
“Huwag na muna natin pakialaman ‘yang Scarborough [Shoal] kasi hindi natin kaya eh. Magalit man tayo,
hangin lang. ‘Di natin kaya [Let’s not dwell on Scarborough Shoal because we don’t have the capabilities. Even
if we express anger, it will just be air. We can’t back it up],” Duterte said.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea. It also refused to acknowledge the ruling of an international tribunal rejecting its sea claims.