Marcos hopeful of meeting Xi at summit

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is looking forward to discussing the long-standing maritime dispute between the Philippines and China, should he meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the ASEAN Summits in Cambodia.

Marcos said the government needs to find a way to resolve the years of the territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea.

“We need to find a way to resolve this issue. But to do that, we have to first status quo everything and that’s what the Code of Conduct will do, to leave things as status quo,” Marcos told reporters in a chance interview while on board a presidential plane —PR001 — en route to Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Wednesday afternoon.

“The first declaration that we had said, there had been no changes… that’s why we need this new Code of Conduct.”

“But those kinds of discussions especially with the West Philippine Sea, I’m hoping to do that with the Chinese President. Yeah, so hopefully that’s what — that will be a subject matter that we talk about. You cannot — I cannot… It’s impossible for me to talk to China without mentioning that,” he explained.

Marcos was referring to the implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

The Chief Executive said the Philippine government must find an area of consensus when pushing its position on the WPS issue.

In 2002, ASEAN and the Chinese government signed the DoC to exercise self-restraint and promote non-militarization within the busy waterway. It has been ASEAN’s call to “peacefully resolve” disputes without resorting to using force.

“We will have to find an area of consensus, that’s what I’m thinking, because if we still can’t find an area of consensus when it comes to that… Well, I think the Code of Conduct has not been moving forward. It’s not really moving forward,” he said.

“We already have actually, the previous declaration which we can base that on. So that is — that is one of the many suggestions that I’m hoping to bring,” he added.

Malacañang has yet to confirm whether or not the President will be able to hold a one-on-one meeting with the Chinese President.

China, the Philippines, and several other littoral states have overlapping claims in the SCS where Beijing claims around 80 percent of the waterway.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands, however, ruled in favor of the Philippines’ petition against China after the arbitral tribunal invalidated Beijing’s supposed nine-dash line.

The President will be at the “Kingdom of Wonder” to attend the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits from 10 to 13 November.

In the summits, Marcos said he seeks to emphasize regional cooperation on maritime security, climate change, food security, health cooperation, and economic recovery to the country’s fellow ASEAN partners.

He also aims to address regional issues such as the pandemic and the situation in Myanmar, developments in the South China Sea, and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

“There’s the issue of course of Myanmar. There’s the issue of China, and Taiwan. There’s also the issue of North Korea. So all these security issues have to be — we have to discuss. The only way that ASEAN member countries can actually deal with those challenges is as one, as a group,” he noted.

Meeting with Trudeau and Macron

The Philippine leader will be meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summits.

“I just made a schedule with Prime Minister Trudeau,” Marcos told reporters. “I’ve never met with him, so I supposed it’s just going to be an introductory one.”

With the French President, on the other hand, Marcos seeks to further discuss the use of nuclear power.

“Remember we’ve been talking about nuclear power. In France, 67 percent of their supply is nuclear power. So they’re very well-practiced when it comes to that,” he said.

He added that France is trying to put together a coalition on climate change under the auspices of the United Nations.

Marcos believes his administration must work aggressively to address the country’s short-term and long-term energy requirements.

He said constructing a new power plant takes some time and the country has to start doing something now.

“It just takes so long. So if we don’t start now, then it will just get delayed. But so far, if we can clear up some issues with the NGCP (National Grid Corporation of the Philippines), they’re all right for supply in the next few months until the summer,” he said.

The President expressed hope that the government could secure the transmission lines this summer to utilize surplus electricity as well as idle or disconnected power plants.

Another issue he said, is fuel cost, with high gas prices making it impractical to run power plants.

“In the long term, there will not be enough supply. So, we’ll have to do that. Also, we spent a long time talking about how to bring down the prices,” he said.

Energy distribution was also discussed to rationalize power supply, Marcos said, noting the current thrust is to go to local cooperatives to show them how to get the lowest electricity price and sell them at the cheapest price possible.

The President earlier gave the Department of Energy the green light to explore and develop the country’s offshore wind potential as a source of clean and sustainable energy.

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