MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his gratitude to the captain and crew of the Vietnamese for helping the Filipino fishermen near Recto Bank.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte, who was in Bangkok, Thailand for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, took the opportunity to thank the Vietnamese for their help through Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
"President Duterte took the occasion to thank the captain and crew of the Vietnamese fishing vessel who saved our fishermen near Recto Bank, stating that this act of kindness and compassion will always be remembered by the Philippines and its people," Panelo said in a statement.
Duterte also expressed "concern and disappointment over the delay in the negotiations for a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea."
"The Chief Executive explained that the longer the delay for an early conclusion of the COC, the higher the probability of maritime incidents happening and the greater the chance for miscalculations that may spiral out of control," Panelo said.
Duterte, likewise, urged ASEAN member-states to remain united in protecting the principles of international law.
He also reiterated the fact that the Philippines is "not beholden to or afraid of any foreign country."
"Today’s gathering has established the guiding philosophy of the President: Respect for the rule of law, and recognition of the sovereign equality of all nations as well," Panelo said.
The Philippines is the coordinator of the ASEAN-China dialogue partnership until 2021, where it leads negotiations on drafting a code of conduct in the South China Sea.