This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr on Monday, July 4, said the Philippines will remain cautious if China offers it aid in the face of a dispute between Manila and Beijing over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
At the Tapatan sa Aristocrat forum, Yasay said the Philippines “will welcome” any offer of aid to the Philippines “in carrying out the development of our infrastructure projects or in pursuing trade relationships.”
President Rodrigo Duterte himself said China has offered to build the Philippines a railway from Metro Manila to Clark, Pampanga, in two years.
Referring to Chinese assistance in general, Yasay said: “We know that this will be beneficial for our people. But we must also not just take this hook, line, and sinker.”
He added, “We must always make sure that in doing so, we will be carrying and pursuing and preserving the paramount national interest.”
“And we will do this not only for China. We will do this for the United States. We will do this for Japan. We will do this for all countries who would like to be friends with us, and who would like to maintain good cordial relationships including along the lines of advancement and economic or trade relationships,” Yasay said.
‘Promoting national interest’
Yasay’s statements come as an arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, is expected to issue a ruling on the Philippines’ case against China by July 12. (READ: DFA’s Yasay on China: We do not fear to negotiate)
The Philippines wants the tribunal to invalidate China’s expansive claim over the South China Sea, parts of which the Philippines claims as the West Philippine Sea.
In relation to the arbitration proceedings, Yasay was asked on Monday how the Philippines will react if China offers these projects in exchange for dropping Manila’s case against Beijing.
The DFA secretary said: “Let me ask you, Sir. Would you think that that would be consistent in promoting the paramount national interest?”
“That is the question that we will always be trying to resolve in addressing these situations, problems, and concerns. The paramount national interest cannot be compromised,” he said.
One of the points of cooperation suggested for Manila and Beijing involves the joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Philippine Supreme Court said this is possible under Philippine law.
For experts like him, this means joint exploration should done on the premise that the Philippines owns the exclusive rights to explore and exploit the West Philippine Sea. China, however, says it has “indisputable sovereignty” over the disputed waters. – Rappler.com