The Manila Times : Marcos vows rules-based order in West PH Sea

By Catherine S. Valente | The Manila Times

PRESIDENT-ELECT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has agreed to promote international rules-based order and the rule of law to maintain peace and stability in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

The commitment was made during his meeting with German Ambassador Anke Reiffenstuel at his headquarters in Mandaluyong City on Tuesday, where they discussed the bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and Germany.

Speaking to reporters, Reiffenstuel said she and Marcos discussed their interest in protecting the maritime sector through enforcing the rule of law.

"We exchanged and we explored our joint interest our common interest in protecting international rules based order and the rule of law that needs to be applied also in the maritime sector," Reiffenstuel said in a press briefing after her private meeting with Marcos.

"We didn't go into details, but we realized that we have a common interest to continue with our cooperation," she added.

Apart from enhancing maritime cooperation between their two countries, Reiffenstuel said she and Marcos also discussed global challenges, including climate change.

"We exchanged [views] about the ongoing bilateral cooperation and the cooperation in the international frame in the multilateral formats. We also discussed potentials for furthering cooperation not only on mutual interests but also on addressing global challenges like climate change," she said.

The envoy said that she informed Marcos about the ongoing programs of Germany to help the Philippines in addressing climate change, including their €25 million donation for climate change-related projects.

The two also talked about global food security, which has been greatly affected by the war between Russia and Ukraine.

"I informed him about the upcoming international ministerial conference on global food security. This is also [set] against the background of the impact of the Russian war against Ukraine, with regard to the challenges on global food security," she said.

Reiffenstuel said that they also tackled the safeguarding of the rule of law and protecting human rights.

"I also underlined the importance Germany attaches to the rule of law and safeguarding human rights, and of our continued commitment to the same," the ambassador said.

"In this context that I also mentioned, German support, contribution and funding for the United Nations joint program on human rights here in the Philippines continues," she added.

The ambassador said that they also focused their discussion on renewable energy. Among Marcos' campaign promises was the provision of lower power rates to the people.

"Renewable energies, of course, are of great importance to us, to Germany. We exchanged ideas about the experiences and the commitment, the distribution and the share of renewable energies in our two countries," she said.

Reiffenstuel said that Marcos illustrated his early commitment to renewable energy by mentioning the wind farm in Ilocos Norte, and they agreed that there is a need to continue deepening the discussions, since this is an area of mutual interest.

Aside from the German ambassador, Ambassador Jorge Moragas of Spain and Ambassador Mohammed Ride El Fassi of Morocco also paid courtesy calls on Marcos.

On Monday, Marcos also met separately with the ambassadors from Italy and the different Asean countries. They discussed expanded cooperation between the Philippines and their respective countries.

The ambassadors relayed the congratulatory messages of their heads of state to Marcos for his victory and affirmed their interest in improving bilateral and diplomatic relations with the Philippines.

Marcos and his running mate, Sara Duterte-Carpio, have embraced the key policies of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, including his position on China.

Since assuming presidency, Duterte has sought to downplay Manila's maritime dispute with Beijing in exchange for improved ties with the world's second largest economy.

Duterte has also refused to flaunt the Philippines' victory against China in a United Nations-backed arbitration court in 2016, which invalidated Beijing's expansive claims on the waters.

The Philippines claims parts of the South China Sea within its exclusive economic zone and calls it the West Philippine Sea.