China, PHL hold talks on West Philippine Sea

Today, February 13, China and Philippines met for the second bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM) meeting in Manila. Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo and Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou led their respective delegation.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said contentious issues concerning the West Philippine Sea are among the topics.

The BCM on the South China Sea, held once every six months, was established based on the joint statement issued after President Duterte’s state visit to China in October 2017.

The purpose of the BCM, according to Secretary Roque, is to discuss issues of concern to either side and cooperation in the West Philippine Sea, and identify mutually acceptable approaches towards addressing these issues.

“It is a matter of informing that public that a mechanism has been in existence, and in response to claims that we are not doing anything. We are doing what the government has deemed best to be done,” Roque underscored.

These ongoing talks demonstrated that the Philippines is not being soft with China, according to the Palace Spokesperson. He confirmed that the government has protested not only the building of the artificial islands but also the alleged militarization of the islands.

“The Philippine government has consistently filed protests, and even during the term of President Duterte, we have filed protests,” Roque said.