MANILA, Philippines – Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc promised President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, April 27, that Vietnam can supply the Philippines with affordable rice if needed.
Phuc made this commitment in a bilateral meeting with Duterte on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit held in Singapore.
“Nanindigan po ang Vietnam na susuplayan nila tayo ng bigas ‘pag tayo’y nangangailangan, at susuplayan nila tayo sa mababang halaga at sa mabuting kalidad ng bigas (Vietnam asserted that they can supply us with rice if we need it, and they will supply us at an affordable price and with a good quality),” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing in Singapore at around 7:20 pm on Friday.
Duterte earlier granted the wish of the National Food Authority (NFA) management for government-to-government importation of 250,000 metric tons rice.
On Friday, Duterte and Phuc also discussed the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Roque said Phuc praised the Philippines’ position on the West Philippine Sea, as Duterte stressed that he will not set aside the 2016 arbitral ruling that upheld the Philippines’ rights over these waters.
Duterte’s statement to Phuc sends a message to critics like Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, according to Roque.
“Well I hope Justice [Antonio] Carpio and all the critics of President Duterte will now keep quiet because this is now a statement of the Philippine President made to another head of state that he has not abandoned, he is not reneging, he is not relinquishing, he is not in any way ignoring the arbitration, and he considers it as a binding arbitral decision in favor of the Philippines,” Roque said.
Carpio has been asserting that the issue of the West Philippine Sea is no longer a question of ownership but of China’s compliance with the decision of the arbitral tribunal.
“The tribunal has already ruled with finality. There’s no appeal. We are the owners of the resources there. There is no legal dispute as to the ownership of the oil, fish, and gas. It belongs exclusively to the Philippines,” the acting chief justice had previously said.
During his meeting with Phuc, Duterte also “appealed for humanitarian assistance” in favor of a Filipino captain “who has been detained in Vietnam since 2016 for alleged illegal cross-border transport of goods.” – Rappler.com