MANILA, Philippines – The second Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) meeting between the Philippines and China will take place on Tuesday, February 13, in Manila, confirmed Malacañang.
The meeting will be led by Foreign Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo for the Philippines and Foreign Affairs Vice Minister Kong Xuanyou for China, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday, February 12, during a Palace press conference.
The first BCM meeting took place in May 2017 in China.
Roque said the second meeting proves the Philippines under the Duterte administration is “not soft on China.”
“So we are not going soft on China. There are ongoing bilateral talks as far as contentious South China Sea issues are concerned,” he said.
“The purpose of this Bilateral Consultation Mechanism is to discuss issues of concern to either side and cooperation in the South China Sea and identify mutually acceptable approaches to addressing this issue,” added President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokeman.
Roque said the second BCM meeting was originally scheduled last December, but that month was a “busy” one hence the postponement to February.
It comes after the publication of high-resolution photos showing China’s continued massive construction on Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, a reef that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Netherlands categorically declared belongs to the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Malacañang had portrayed itself as helpless to stop the construction, to the outrage of Filipino netizens. (READ: Roque: One day, we’ll thank China for artificial islands) – Rappler.com