MANILA - Malacañang believes that the Philippines’ decision to seek arbitral proceedings on its territorial dispute with China will not have any negative effect on the other facets of the countries’ bilateral relations such as on trade and tourism.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that the dispute is “not the end-all and be-all” of the country’s relations with China, citing trade relations and people-to-people exchange.
Lacierda is confident that Chinese tourists will continue to visit the Philippines especially after a Shanghai newspaper named the Philippines as the “most romantic destination.”
“China just called us the most romantic destination. So we are very romantic and we will continue to spread our romance with our Chinese friends,” Lacierda told reporters.
“We abstract this issue of the West Philippine Sea from our RP-China relations as a whole. And we believe that we can continue to move forward with our people-to-people engagement, in our trade relations with China. This matter has been given over to the international tribunal and we’ll let the international tribunal to decide on this matter. This is not the crux of our RP-China relations,” he said.
The Palace believes that the Philippines has a strong case.
“The steps we have taken [are] based on international law. And therefore… we expect international law will prevail… China and the Philippines being signatories to UNCLOS, we will observe the… rules of UNCLOS,” Lacierda said.
Asked to react to a statement from the Chinese Embassay that China prefers that the disputes be settled through negotiations, Lacierda said, “That is a statement that is after the fact. We have already filed. Magkita na lang tayo sa international tribunal, (laughing)” Lacierda said.