“The Duterte Administration is unwavering in its commitment to protect our country’s territorial claims and maritime entitlements. Let me also say that we are also of the position that ongoing territorial disputes should be resolved in a manner consistent with the spirit of good neighborly relations and the 1982 UNCLOS,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said in a statement after the 2nd meeting of the bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea held February 13.
Secretary Cayetano also noted some positive developments in the West Philippine Sea.
“Let me note that our fishermen are back exercising their livelihood in Scarborough Shoal, and overall, the situation in the greater South China Sea has become more stable than in past years,” he said.
DFA also noted that measures for all parties to protect the environment and marine ecosystem in the South China Sea are in place and all parties including China committed not to build on uninhabited features in accordance with the Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea.
“Just because we are not in an open shouting match with China, or arguing in public, doesn’t mean that the issues aren’t being dealt with decisively. On the contrary, we are not only exerting efforts but also getting things done,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano also said the recently concluded meeting “has become an important step towards resolving ongoing disputes on territory, sovereignty, and sovereignty rights in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea, however, this bilateral consultation mechanism is also here to strengthen the momentum of cooperation in matters of common interest such as marine environmental protection, coordination between Coast Guards, and the protection of our fishermen, as well the possibility of joint exploration.”
DFA Undersecretary Enrique A. Manalo and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou led their respective delegations.