By Bernadette Tamayo | People's Journal
SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos has appealed to the Philippine and Chinese governments to “find a way” to peacefully resolve the territorial dispute in the West Philippine (or South China) Sea arising from overlapping claims in the Spratly Islands.
“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. He made the appeal yesterday before participants to the China-Southeast Asia People’s High-Level Dialogue in the City of Nanning in Guangxi, China.
Marcos went on a 5-day official trip to China to attend the dialogue as current chairman 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. He is set to return today for the resumption of session.
He lamented that the conflicting territorial claims in the Spartly Islands in the West Philippine Sea even led to standoffs and heated exchanges. 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,” Marcos said.
He also raised the importance of improved cultural and arts exchanges between the Philippines and China to “lessen the tension” between the two countries “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,” he said.
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.”