Vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today said sports and cultural exchanges between the Philippines and China may be the key to ending the on-going tension due to dispute over territories in the West Philippine Sea.
Marcos made the appeal following a series of incidents where Filipino fishermen experienced harassment from Chinese navy in the disputed areas in West Philippine Sea and stern pronouncements of Beijing over defense arrangements between the Philippines and the United States.
Marcos said talks should be initiated with China and it need not be done formally but may be conducted through various informal exchanges like sports and culture.
“In my view we should have engaged China in bilateral talks long ago. And when I say bilateral talks I mean not only government-to-government, but also informal engagements such as educational exchange, sports, and cultural exchanges,” Marcos stated.
What is important, he pointed out, is that the next administration must immediately initiate moves for a dialogue with China to defuse the escalating tension between the two countries. “We have an on-going arbitration case before the United Nations but I think we have not done enough as the situation continues to deteriorate and our diplomatic relations with China has not improved either,” Marcos noted.
He reiterated that even if the Philippines were to win in the arbitration case, it would not improve the situation because from thestart Beijing has insisted that it won’t recognize the jurisdiction of the international tribunal over the case.
Marcos also said that among the first agreement that Manila and Beijing should try to forge is to stop the harassment of fishermen from both countries as long as they are clearly fishing in international waters.
“It is very clear that unless Manila and Beijing could come to an agreement, the situation in the West Philippine Sea would not improve. And there could be no agreement unless the two sides talk,” Marcos said.
Marcos said the Philippines must immediately initiate the process of bilateral talks because forging any consensus on the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea won’t happen overnight. “It’s a very long process and that is why we should begin the process as early as possible,” said Marcos.