MANILA - There is more to the relationship between China and the Philippines than the row over at the West Philippine Sea, Malacanang said, as it stressed that the country will retain a non-provocative stance amid Chinese ships still allegedly trespassing in Philippine waters.
“Our relationship with our neighbor is multifaceted. And, as we’ve always said, since the time that we have had several issues with them – [there] are other facets of that relationship that we continue to develop and that we continue to move forward on,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
Both nations are celebrating twin events on Sunday -- the 12th Filipino Chinese Friendship Day Celebration and the 38th Anniversary of Philippines-China Diplomatic Relation.
“Let the maritime disputes not be the whole of our relationship but, rather, just a part of it. [Given] the close ties that we have, it’s worth something to look [at other facets] and check and see if we can move forward on those fronts,” Valte said.
According to Valte, ownership over the disputed islands does not mean ship visibility.
“You have to remember that there are many symbols of ownership, not the least what we have been doing. And, again, allow us to reiterate that we have taken a deliberate policy of avoiding or responding to any provocative action or statement that may be presented to us in the course of this dispute,” she said.
The same could be said about the Chinese presence at Bajo de Masinloc, which is reportedly now under the virtual occupation by China.
Fishermen living in Zambales have already complained of losing their livelihood.
On this, Valte only said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is already identifying alternative fishing sites for fishermen.
She also claimed the government has extended assistance to the fisherfolk there so “they don’t have to go far from Bajo de Masinloc.”