News Release

PH to continue diplomatic efforts amid row with China, says DFA official

The Philippine government will continue its peace efforts in the diplomatic front amid China’s escalating attacks in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday.

“Yes, hindi nawawala ‘yan, we are also doing something on the diplomatic front,” DFA Undersecretary Ma. Theresa Lazaro told reporters shortly after the press briefing in Malacañang in referring to the government peace efforts.

Lazaro said the Philippine government has a mechanism, or the Bilateral Consultative Mechanism on the South China Sea, which “has been in existence for quite a number of years.”

She said the last meeting was held on January 17 in Shanghai.

“And there were discussions on some confidence-building measures that have been sort of formulated. And now we are, it’s just that there are certain possibilities of us meeting again sometime in the near future,” Lazaro said.

“But this is to complement what has been — it is a very important aspect — is really the diplomatic front,” she added.

The Philippines-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea (BCM) was organized several years ago to foster friendly dialogue between the Philippines and China.

Lazaro, however, clarified that there’s no date yet on the possible meeting since it will take time to organize such gathering.

Asked about government’s clear action on what it’s going to do next, Lazaro said this is all subject to discussion within the DFA on what the government is going to say.

Lazaro, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, and National Security Adviser Secretary Eduardo Año issued a joint statement on Monday saying they see the latest incident in Ayungin Shoal, not as a misunderstanding or an accident, but a deliberate act of China to prevent the Philippines from completing its missions.

“We are not downplaying the incident. It was an aggressive and illegal use of force. We, however, continue to find peaceful solutions to this issue,” the statement said.

“As pointed out by the President, ‘we are not in the business to instigate wars. The Philippines is a responsible state. We will continue to exercise our freedoms and rights in support of our national interest, in accordance with international law,” they stressed. | PND