The Philippines and China should mutually agree to step back and cool the situation arising from conflicting territorial claims over West Philippine Sea, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos has said.
“I propose that instead of making that conflict the main feature of our relationship, let us make it a minor part and pursue further contacts, exchanges and cooperation in other sectors,” Marcos said.
Marcos aired the proposal in his speech during the June 3-4 “China-Southeast Asia People’s High-Level Dialogue” in the City of Nanning in Guangxi, China.
The senator went on a 5-day official trip to China (May 31-June 4) to attend the dialogue as chair of the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement upon the invitation of the China NGO Network for International Exchanges (CNIE) based in Beijing and Guangzhou.
Marcos said the two countries could further strengthen their relationship in the areas of trade, tourism, linkages between educational institutions, health and social protection issues, agricultural cooperation, and mutual assistance when natural disasters occur.
He said tourism holds a great promise for cooperation between the two countries as it would promote individual and social contact and lessen tensions “as we put a face to each other at a more human level.”
“What has long sustained our relations thus far has generally been in the area of cultural and arts exchanges. This plays no small part in deepening the understanding between our two peoples. It is an area rich with possibilities and something we can expand immediately and surely will bring us closer to each other,” Marcos said.
Noting that problems related to the conflicting territorial claims have become of immediate concern recently, with incidents of standoffs and heated exchanges, Marcos said the two countries “must find a way to at least resolve the situation.”
Aside from a mutual agreement to cool the situation, Marcos said both countries “must agree on a framework method that is agreeable to both our countries to move the discussions forward to arrive at a true and permanent resolution of the problem.”
“This is with the quite reasonable understanding that it is the duty of the Philippine leadership to explore, discuss and pursue any other possible avenues that are available that have the potential to normalize the situation,” he stressed.