Defense chief says China must show sincerity first before PH talks on WPS
MANILA, Philippines — China must show its sincerity before the Philippines can have fruitful bilateral talks with the country on West Philippine Sea affairs, according to Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr.
Teodoro on Monday also stressed this as he warned that the bilateral talks could be used by Beijing as a “mere weapon” to constrain Manila.
“What I’m saying is, [in] my personal opinion, if there are going to be bilateral discussions it must be based on fundamental principles and it must be based on sincerity, that it shall not be used merely as a weapon in order to constrained the Philippines,” Teodoro said in an ambush interview in Camp Aguinaldo, noting that the decision to hold bilateral talks with China lies within President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
The top defense official also warned that the country will just act in accordance with China’s “playbook” if it agrees to bilateral talks, especially if it continues its “illegal activities.”
“This is my personal belief that formal bilateral discussions should only be held when it is proven that they are sincere,” Teodoro said.
“But the President himself has said that their illegal activities continue unabated so to enter into a bilateral negotiations and … in that context will be just to be playing into their playbook and it will be an attempt to constrain the Philippines from enforcing its claims which it rightfully has under international law,” he added.
China asserts sovereignty in almost the entire South China Sea, including most of the western section of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), causing tensions between the two countries.
A 2016 international tribunal ruling, however, effectively dismissed China’s sweeping claims while ruling in favor of the Philippines.