Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. today pushed for dialogue with China to ease the escalating tension arising from the territorial disputes over the West Philippine Sea saying the signing of the historic Philippine-Indonesia maritime baseline agreement should serve as a guide to lessen the pressure.
In an interview, Marcos said the Philippine government need not pin its efforts on the decision to be handed by the United Nations arbitral tribunal over the sea row because China had refused to take part in the case and has already declared that it will not follow its ruling.
He said the best way to ease the tension is to explore any form of dialogue with China. “In my opinion, and this has been my stand ever since. We should talk to China and tell them what we want and that we are not in favor of what they are doing and start from there. What is important is we start a dialogue,” he said.
Marcos cited the recent agreement reached between the Philippines and Indonesia defining the two countries’ maritime boundary after twenty years of negotiations.
Marcos chaired the Senate Foreign Relations sub-committee on the Philippines-Indonesia Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone Boundary which recently came up with a treaty to be endorsed for concurrence of the entire chamber on the historic maritime pact between the Philippines and Indonesia.
"The valuable experience we had in conducting years of negotiation with Indonesia provides us with a roadmap on how to resolve our maritime territorial dispute with other countries, particularly the one with China in the West Philippine Sea," he said.
The senator further said that the dialogue with China may not be formal or government to government but may be done through business, cultural or sports endeavors. “It may be government to government or informal. It may also be through business, our businessmen can help or we may start a cultural or educational exchange,” he said.
Marcos pointed out that the tension between the United States and China in the 1970s ended through a game of Ping-pong. “No one thought that the diplomatic tension could end through a game of Ping-pong. So all peaceful methods should be pursued, formally or informally, government to government, private sector, educational sector, cultural, sports. Let’s all give it a try. We would not know if it will work unless we give it a try,” he said.
The process will not be easy and immediate, Marcos stated, but what is important is initiating talks and exploring all avenues to have a dialogue with China. “It is important that we hold talks. We may not be able to do it in one sitting, the process may be long but what is important is we start the dialogue. It is the only way,” he said.