By Catherine S. Valente | The Manila Times
If he becomes president, former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said he will push for the crafting of a code of conduct between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China to resolve the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, which includes the West Philippine Sea.
During the presidential debate hosted by media network SMNI on Tuesday, Marcos said he is keen on asking help from the Asean and the United Nations in dealing with the Philippines' maritime dispute with China.
"Puntahan natin ang Asean, magpatulong tayo sa Asean dahil ang Asean ay mayroon ding binubuo na Code of Conduct para sa Asean at tsaka sa China at sana maipasa na 'yan (We will go to Asean and ask the help of Asean because they are crafting the Code of Conduct for Asean and China)," Marcos said.
"At punta pati tayo sa UN at magpadala tayo ng delegation sa Beijing para kausapin ang Presidente Xi at sasabihin papano ba natin ayusin ito, paano ba natin ayusin para di na maulit ang nagyari sa nakaraan (We will send a delegation to Beijing to talk to President Xi and discuss with him how to resolve the issue so that what happened in the past will not happen again)," he added.
Marcos also assured Filipino fishermen that they would be able to return to their traditional fishing grounds in the West Philippine Sea without interference from Chinese coast guard ships.
"Siguro naman maipapaliwanag natin sa China na ang mga bangka ay hindi naman military threat 'yan sa kanila bakit sila maglalagay ng warship doon (We will explain to China that our vessels are not a military threat, so why do they need to put warships there)?" he added.
The former senator said that the Philippines needs to patrol the West Philippine Sea to assert the country's sovereignty.
"The reason I spoke about putting a military presence there is so that the government or the Republic of the Philippines has a presence there to show to China that we are defending what we consider our territorial waters," he said.
"And that is not for them to go here to fire upon the Chinese vessels but merely to make their presence felt so that the Chinese know we are aware of what they are doing, we do not agree with what they are doing," he added.
Marcos said he will use diplomacy to resolve the maritime dispute with China.
"We carry on with our diplomatic back channel, side channel whatever way we can do to fix the problem and make us have a system so that we no longer have this problem again," he said.
Marcos also promised to make his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) public if he is elected president.
He said that releasing his SALN "will not be a problem."
"If elected, I'll be willing to make my SALN public if they ask for it," Marcos said.
He added that there is no need to amend the law that requires government officials to file the SALN.
All public officers and employees are required to submit their statement of assets, liabilities and net worth under oath according to Article XI, Section 17 of the Constitution.
The law also states that in the case of the president, the vice president, the members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the Armed Forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.