MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang clarified that bilateral talks with China are still being considered, after a US senator claimed in tweets that President Rodrigo Duterte had given assurances that negotiations with the Asian giant are out of the picture.
“The Philippines continues along a diplomatic path to fully realize the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) rights granted by the Arbitration Court – engaging in bilateral talks to find mutually acceptable arrangements to RP (Republic of the Philippines), PROC (People’s Republic of China); and consulting with our regional allies,” said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella in a press release on Wednesday, July 20.
The previous night, US Senator Chris Murphy tweeted that Duterte had assured US officials that “he has no plans to negotiate with China over islands dispute.”
Murphy also said that Duterte had assured them that the historic ruling over the West Philippine Sea is “non-negotiable.”
Abella clarified that bilateral talks with Beijing are still on the table as long as they abide by Philippine and international law.
“Engagement with China through bilateral talks towards the peaceful resolution of the issue must be compliant with the Constitution, international law, and the rule of law,” said Abella.
Murphy was part of the US delegation that met with Duterte on Tuesday in Malacañang Palace.
The delegation included US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg and US lawmakers.
On July 26 to 27, Duterte is set to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry, who intends “to discuss the full range” of US cooperation with the Philippine government.
The visits of US officials come after an international court ruled that China had no legal basis to claim historic rights to resources within the West Philippine Sea. It also said that Beijing violated Manila’s sovereign rights in the Philippines’ own Exclusive Economic Zone. – Rappler.com