MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano reiterated the Duterte administration’s “unwavering” commitment to protecting the country’s claims in the South China Sea and defended his silence on developments and issues on the disputed territory.
“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 Wednesday, a day after the second meeting of the Philippine-China Bilateral Consultative Mechanism on South China Sea.
The Philippine delegation was led by Undersecretary Enrique Manalo, the Chinese by Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou.
In a separate press statement from the one jointly issued by the two states, the DFA said, “While there are points of disagreement,” both delegations agreed “to cooperate and properly manage issues of mutual concern and preserve security and stability in the region.”
In a phone interview, Ambassador to Beijing Chito Sta. Romana said the country is indeed moving forward on the issue.
The envoy was initially asked why the country is not, at the very least, publicly speaking out against China’s continuing construction in its reclaimed area.
“We do it through diplomacy, that’s the reason,” he said, pointing out that these issues are directly raised with the Chinese at fora such as the BCM and high-level discussions. “We find it [a] more effective form.”
For his part, Cayetano said “the Duterte administration is unwavering in its commitment to protect our country’s territorial claims and maritime entitlements.”
Further, he noted Manila maintains “that ongoing territorial disputes should be resolved in a manner consistent with the spirit of good neighborly relations and the 1982 UNCLOS.”