Duterte mulls bilateral talks with China
President Rodrigo Duterte is willing to engage in bilateral talks with China after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) favored the Philippines over China in their maritime dispute.
“Ang sabi niya (Duterte said), ‘Let’s see. We’ll start the bilateral talks and now we’re starting from a better position because of that decision kasi nasa tamang lugar tayo (because we know it is on our side),’” Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno told reporters in an ambush interview on Thursday.
Diokno said this was discussed during a Cabinet meeting in Malacañang on Tuesday night after the country’s historic win at the arbitration tribunal in The Hague.
“Let’s be magnanimous in victory,” he added.
He, however, admitted that the difficult part of the decision was the enforcement.
“Ang mahirap talaga sa desisyon na ‘yun is ‘yung (the difficult aspect of that decision is its) enforceability,” he said.
Justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said the UN ruling was discussed during the Cabinet meeting.
“That was when we were discussing the different responses/options which the (Philippines) may take after the ruling was issued. We have to talk with China. We could not avoid it,” Aguirre said in a text message.
Malacañang has said the government will exercise restraint and sobriety while studying the decision of the arbitral tribunal.
“The ruling was welcome, and the government will proceed with sobriety and restraint,” Presidential Communications Secretary Ernesto Abella said, echoing an earlier statement of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay.
Duterte had said he wants to maintain friendly relations with China, adding that the Philippines cannot afford to go to war with China.
During the campaign period, the President said he was open to a joint exploration of the natural resources in the disputed sea with China.
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