MANILA - Former President and now House Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has advised President Duterte to maintain healthy economic ties with China, even as the superpower continues to insist on its claims to disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea.
In a press conference, Arroyo on Monday said she gave this advice to Duterte during a National Security Council (NSC) meeting last July, after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruled that Beijing had no historic rights in the resource-rich waters.
"During the National Security Council meeting, I had only one sentence for my advice: As a strategic direction, the Philippines should pursue a healthy relationship with China based mainly on economic exchange, trade and investment, and to the most practicable extent possible, transcend the specific matters at issue between us," Arroyo said.
Arroyo, the 14th Philippine president, is a member of the NSC like all former chief executives.
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During her term, Arroyo had maintained a good relationship with Beijing, in stark contrast to her successor who led the filing of the arbitration case against the Asian giant.
Duterte, on his part, said any negotiations with China should be based on the PCA decision that favored the Philippines.
“Whether you like it or not, I proceed, and my predicate for my willingness to talk to you would be the arbitration judgment in our favor,” he said.
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