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Marcos sees tension in West Philippine Sea easing after China visit

BEIJING—President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., expects tension in the West Philippine Sea easing and incidents of harassment decreasing after his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Marcos was in China for a state visit that secured several deals and agreements as well as around $22 billion worth of investment pledges.

He said he proposed the strengthening of a bilateral team that will discuss issues in the resource-rich region during his meeting with the Chinese leader.

“That’s entirely the point of having the bilateral team. It’s continuing to discuss but as I said, I wanted to raise the level of discussion to maybe a ministerial level with direct access to both Presidents," Marcos told reporters.

"The intention of course is to minimize all of these ‘incidents,’ siyempre ‘yung report nila naiba doon sa report natin,” he added.

“Pero di bale, let’s just call it an incident and sana mabawasan na ‘yun. I think it will," Marcos said.

Marcos said there were existing bilateral mechanisms which discuss issues between the two countries. He said it would be best if members of the bilateral teams had direct access to the heads of state.

"When lines of communication are open at mabilis makapagdesisyon si President Xi at makapagdesisyon ako kaagad, palagay ko marami tayong mababawasan sa mga problemang nakikita natin ngayon,” Marcos said.

"Ang aking proposal ay iakyat, pataasin natin ang bilateral, ang mga member ng bilateral… sabi ko ang pinakamaganda sana ‘yung Chinese members of the bilateral group have a direct access to the President,” he added.

“Ako naman, on my part, titiyakin ko ‘yung mga nakaupo sa bilateral team natin ay may direct contact din naman sa akin para deretso. Nothing will be lost in translation, hindi magkakaproblema sa misinformation,” Marcos said.

Marcos said incidents of harassment and encroachment usually happened due to lack of communication.

“I said the incidents that have been happening in terms of our fishermen, in terms of our Coast Guard etc., lahat ‘yan, mga incidents na ‘yan I see it as a lack of communication or rapid communication," Marcos said.

"So sabi, gumawa tayo ng paraan para kung may problema from other side, sabihin niyo… magsasabi kami sa inyo kaagad, sabihan niyo rin kami kaagad,” he added.

On debris from China's rocket launches, Marcos said, "“Kung magpapalipad kayo ng rocket, sabihin niyo sa 'min."

"Kung may bumagsak sa Pilipinas, irerecover namin, bibigay naman namin sa inyo eh. Wala kaming interes na itago ‘yan,” Marcos said.

Marcos mentioned the improvement of communications between the Philippine Navy, the Philippine Coast Guard and their respective counterparts in China.

“We talk about strengthening communications between governments and also at a ministerial level and also at Coast Guard and Navy level so that is something," Marcos said.

"Malaking bagay ‘yun because if the commanders of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Navy and the commanders of the Chinese Coast Guard and their Navy, kung magkakilala ‘yan eh madali silang magusap bago may mangyari pa,” he added.

Among the deals signed during Marcos’ state visit was to avoid miscommunications in the West Philippine Sea, Palace said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Marcos said raising the situation of Filipino fishermen to Xi has shown that their plight is among the government’s priorities.

“Clearly that’s the very important issue for us and siguro naman, after we came to an agreement with President Xi, that this is an important aspect of our relationship, something that is easily remedied, relatively easily remedied, we will… when we get back, the Foreign Secretary and his counterpart here in China will finalize the organization of that and fix the situation with our fishermen and that’s number one on the agenda,” Marcos said.

Marcos said the two parties would agreed to ensure that Filipino fishermen could go to natural fishing grounds in the region.

He also said he raised the Code of Conduct and UNCLOS to Xi during their meeting.

“All of these issues were discussed but I think that they were in private discussions. We have not yet formulated the complete, shall we say, position,” Marcos said. —NB, GMA Integrated News