The Philippines has maintained the position that bilateral negotiation with China to resolve the West Philippine Sea dispute is now out of the picture. Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in a press briefing, Tuesday, discounted bilateral talks as a mode of addressing issues regarding territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.
“The Philippines’ position is clear: the principle of ASEAN Centrality must be acknowledged as agreed under the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by China and ASEAN members in 2002 and as calls for the institution of a legally binding Code of Conduct continues,” Coloma said.
However, the Palace official said people-to-people programs on various aspects like education and culture and livelihood cooperation is currently being strengthened.
The statement from Coloma came after Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said Philippines and China should go back to table and negotiate on the issue of West Philippine Sea dispute. “We need to resume our bilateral negotiation without any condition.”
“Our door for bilateral consultation and negotiation is still open and will be open forever,” the Chinese envoy said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs stated before that China has an impossible pre-condition prior to bilateral talks: The Philippine has to recognize China’s indisputable sovereignty over virtually the entire West Philippine Sea.
Philippine delegation is currently at The Hague, Netherlands presenting the country’s position in case against China’s claim on virtually the entire West Philippine Sea.
Diplomatic relations between Philippines and China is now in its 40th year.