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MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr on Monday, July 4, said the Philippines does “not fear to negotiate” with China as a ruling is expected on a historic case over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“To paraphrase another world leader, let me say that we do not fear to negotiate, and we do not negotiate out of fear,” Yasay said at the Tapatan sa Aristocrat forum on Monday morning.
Yasay was jumping off from a question during his first press conference as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). (READ: New DFA chief Yasay: Why be afraid of China?)
Yasay said: “In my first official press conference last week, a reporter asked, ‘Are you afraid of China?’ In answer, I replied with a rhetorical question: ‘Why should we be afraid of China?’ The hall fell momentarily silent while reflecting a collective response.”
That moment, Yasay said he remembered the words, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”
‘There is nothing to fear’
Explaining his statement, the new DFA chief added that the Philippines must show diplomacy “in many areas of cooperation with all nations.”
“We will strictly adhere to the rule of law, and be resolute in our upholding our sovereignty rights and right of self determination. We gallantly seek peace, not war. And yes, we must put it to work in multilateral or bilateral negotiations,” Yasay said.
Yasay’s statement comes after his comments during the first Duterte Cabinet meeting fueled concerns the new administration is afraid of China.
During their Cabinet meeting on June 30, Yasay referred to the Philippines’ possible victory in its case against China: “What if, in the face of these circumstances, China will dig in and put us to a test? They will disallow again our fishermen from fishing in Scarborough Shoal.”
The Permanent Court of Arbitration is expected to announce an arbitral tribunal’s ruling on Manila’s case against Beijing on July 12.
The Philippines wants the tribunal to invalidate China’s 9-dash line, a demarcation to claim virtually the entire South China Sea, parts of which the Philippines claims as the West Philippine Sea. – Rappler.com