PH-China in ‘very serious’ talks over West PH Sea dispute, says DFA exec
The Philippines is currently engaged in “very serious conversations” with China after it filed a diplomatic protest against Beijing over its continued militarization of the West Philippine Sea, a foreign affairs official said on Friday.
“We continue to assure you that we continue to engage in very serious conversations,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella told reporters in an interview in Malacañang.
Abella disputed allegations of critics that the government was being “negligent” in dealing with China’s aggressive militarization and development in the disputed waters.
On Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that the Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest against China for its continued militarization and reclamation in the West Philippine Sea.
But Abella refused to give further details regarding the diplomatic protest.
“Those are classified details,” he noted.
Abella, however, assured that Beijing’s recent activities in the contested sea were being brought up with China.
“(A)nything that is of considerable concern to the safety [of Filipinos] is covered” in the protest filed by the Philippines against China, Abella said.
DFA not negligent
Abella then defended the action of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and maintained that the government is not being “negligent” about the issue.
“Like I said there are certain matters that are classified but rest assured the government is not negligent especially the DFA,” he pointed out.
“Of course there are always aspersions and criticisms but I would like to assure you that our departments especially the executive branch are not negligent,” he added.
Safety is a primary concern
Abella said the safety of travel in the West Philippine Sea remains to be the top concern of the government.
“We always underline our concern on the safety on the seas that these will not be interrupted,” he said.
And despite Manila’s diplomatic protest against Beijing, Abella said Philippines-China relations continue to improve.
“We continue to ensure that our areas of cooperation especially with China are protected: safety of the seas, the safety of travel, oil and gas, fisheries and environmental concerns,” he stressed.
“So we continue to assure you that we continue to engage in very serious conversations,” he added. /kga
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