Deposed president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada will attend China’s huge military parade this week marking Japan’s defeat in the Second World War despite territorial tensions between Manila and Beijing, his spokesman said on Monday.
The disgraced former leader, however, will attend in his capacity as mayor of Manila, not as a representative of the national government, his media affairs chief Diego Cagahastian said.
“He will be going as an invited guest. Manila is the sister city of Beijing and he is going as mayor of Manila,” Cagahastian added.
Estrada, a former top movie star who was elected president in 1998 but ousted in an uprising in 2001, will leave for China also on Monday and return on September 6, he added.
Government spokesmen have not said if any senior official will represent the country at the parade even though China and the Philippines were antagonists of Japan during the last war.
In recent years, the tensions between the two countries had been strained over their conflicting claims to parts of the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have overlapping claims to supposedly mineral-rich areas in the sea.
Manila has been the most vocal in opposing China, publicly accusing it of “bullying” to assert its maritime claim and filing a case before an international tribunal in The Hague, challenging Beijing’s position.
Estrada, who was convicted of massive graft in 2007 but later pardoned, has taken a more conciliatory stance with China.
In a recent interview, he was quoted as saying he hoped China would help in the modernization of the Philippines and that relations between them would soon improve.