PH, Vietnam working on strategic pact amid sea dispute
MALACAÑANG on Monday said the Philippines and the Vietnam are still ironing out the details of a strategic partnership agreement in the face of China’s aggressive reclamation efforts in disputed areas of South China Sea.
“The details of the proposed strategic partnership are still being defined and worked out by the two countries. That’s the current status,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told Palace reporters.
In an exclusive interview with South China Morning Post, President Benigno Aquino III revealed that Vietnam proposed the agreement and not the other way around.
Both the Philippines and Vietnam are vocal against China’s actions in the South China Sea, especially in areas within their exclusive economic zone.
In an earlier briefing, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Luis Cruz said Vietnam has already requested for a bilateral meeting with Aquino during the upcoming Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Malaysia.
He said they have yet to inform the President about it. While the Asean Summit schedule is “very tight,” he said the heads of state could discuss matters in between meetings.
Last year, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visited the Philippines for the World Economic Forum (WEF). After meeting with Aquino, he issued a strong statement against China for its actions violating international law.
At that time, anti-China protests erupted in Vietnam over an oil rig deployment conflict between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels.
The Philippines, on the other hand, is at the receiving end of Chinese reclamation efforts.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer also reported that Chinese coast guard drove away Filipino fishermen from Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) last April 9. AC
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