Marcos: Manila not pursuing China ‘partnership’

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PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. on Monday said the Philippines is eyeing an agreement, not a partnership, with China to allow Filipino fishermen to fish in the South China Sea.

This after former National Security Adviser Clarita A. Carlos said on Friday the Philippines was studying a proposal by China for a “partnership between fishing villages.”

Mr. Marcos told a briefing on his way to Davos he did not know “how the word ‘partnership’ started to be used.” “It’s really an agreement that China will not stop our fishermen from fishing,” he said, based on a transcript from the presidential palace.

“That’s it, very simple,” he said. “[China] will allow our fishermen to fish in the fishing grounds that they have used for many generations.”

On Friday, Ms. Carlos told a news briefing China had proposed to have a “partnership between fishing villages, and we are looking at that.”

She said the Philippine leader’s state visit to China on Jan. 3 to 5 would facilitate the dialogue especially on their sea dispute.

“There are many more levels of cooperation that are not known to the public that are happening, for example, between the Philippine Coast Guard and Chinese Coast Guard,” she added.

Earlier, Mr. Marcos said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had vowed to “find a compromise” to avoid tensions between Filipino fishermen and Chinese authorities in the disputed waterway.

The Philippine leader said they had discussed “what we can do to move forward” and avoid any possible mistakes “that could trigger a bigger problem than what we already have.”

Mr. Marcos also that he and his Chinese counterpart had discussed the resumption of oil and gas talks between the two countries.

Last week, the Supreme Court voided the Philippines 2005 energy exploration deal with China and Vietnam. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza