Marcos seeks talks with Vietnam to avoid EEZ problems
LABUAN BAJO—President Marcos wants to set talks between the Philippines and Vietnam and come to an agreement to avoid “problems in the future” in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The President was referring to a recent incident when the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spotted a Vietnamese vessel entering the Recto (Reed) Bank, which is within the country’s EEZ.
Marcos held a bilateral meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the sidelines of the 42nd Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit here last Wednesday.
In an interview with the Philippine media onboard his plane back to Manila on Thursday, the President said he has asked the “foreign ministers [from the Philippines and Vietnam] to begin develop[ing] the talks so that we can have an agreement and so that there wouldn’t be any similar problems in the future.”
Marcos did not elaborate on the kind of agreement being eyed between Manila and Hanoi.
The Recto bank incident was reported in February, with the Vietnamese vessel being challenged by the PCG’s BRP Teresa Magbanua through radio communications.
The PCG said the Vietnamese ship immediately fled Recto Bank after the PCG deployed its rigid hull inflatable boat.
President Marcos said the matter was “not contentious,” and that it was an issue “that we never had to worry about before, except for now.”
He added: “That’s why we have to talk about this as early as possible [so] that we can have our own agreement on these matters … It is best that we won’t have any conflicts with them and avoid any incidents similar to what [had] happened before.”
A statement sent by Malacañang quoted Marcos as saying that the Philippines and Vietnam must start making contact between [their] foreign services, “and eventually maybe even with our military leaders.”
According to a readout provided by Malacañang on President Marcos’ bilateral talks with the Vietnamese prime minister, the two leaders agreed to “continue strengthening” their strategic partnership by expanding the two nations’ cooperation on trade and investment, tourism, agriculture, and defense and security.