President Rodrigo Duterte is considering holding bilateral talks with China after The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines over China’s nine-dash line claiming parts of the West Philippine Sea, according to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
Diokno told the press in an ambush interview on Thursday, July 14, that Duterte is thinking of engaging in bilateral talks with China after the favorable ruling.
“Sabi niya, we will start the bilateral talks and now we’re starting from a better position because of that decision kasi nasa tamang lugar tayo,” Diokno said.
Diokno said that Duterte, despite the victory, reminded the Cabinet members to remain “magnanimous.”
“Di ba wag ka nang ano, kasi asar na asar na nga ang kalaban mo, tapos aasarin mo pa,” said the Cabinet secretary.
Confirmation about the possibility of bilateral talks also came from Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre via text message to Rappler. He said that the said solution came up during the Cabinet meeting on July 12, after the tribunal ruling on the West Philippine Sea came out.
Aguirre said that the attendees talked about the possible things the Philippines will do after the verdict and talking with China was among them. “We could not avoid it,” he said.
Duterte has previously talked about his willingness to hold bilateral negotiations with China and even the possibility of a joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea, which is the exact opposite of the stand of the Aquino administration, which brought the maritime dispute to international court.
According to foreign analysts, The Hague ruling can give the Philippines an advantage during negotiation.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said that Malacañang has “no official word” on resorting to bilateral talks with China. It is just so since Solicitor General Jose Calida is yet to give Duterte an interpretation of the ruling in the next three days.