By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

FRIENDLY MEETING. Former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte (left) meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Monday (July 17, 2023). President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. sees no conflict with the meeting and said it doesn’t need his approval. (Photo courtesy of Xinhua)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. sees no conflict with his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China on Monday.

Neither should Duterte seek his approval to meet with Xi.

Hindi naman kailangan. Alam ko namang pupunta siya. Magkaibigan sila, magkakakilala sila. So, I hope that napag-usapan nila ‘yung mga issue ngayon, ‘yung mga nakikita natin, ‘yung mga shadowing, ‘yung mga kung anu-ano (I know that they will have a meeting. I know that he will go there. They are friends. They know each other. So, I hope that they talked about the latest issues, including the shadowing),” Marcos said in a media interview after the launch of the “Walang Gutom 2027: Food Stamp Program” in Tondo, Manila on Tuesday.

Marcos expressed hopes that Duterte and Xi discussed the recent developments in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

He was referring to recent reports that the Chinese Coast Guard vessels shadowed and blocked two Philippine Coast Guard ships from entering Ayungin Shoal for a support mission in the WPS.

“All of these things that we are seeing now, I hope napag-usapan nila para naman magkaroon tayo ng progress kasi ‘yun naman talaga ang habol natin. Patuloy ang pag-uusap (they were able to talk about those issues so there will be progress because that’s what we want, we want to continue the talks),” he said.

Kaya (So), I welcome any new lines of communications. If that is President PRRD, then good. Hindi importante sa akin kung sino, kung ano, basta’t may makausap sila. Baka makatulong eh (It’s not important to me who they talked to, so long as it could help us),” Marcos added.

Marcos said he is expecting Duterte to release a statement about what happened during his meeting with Xi and “see how that affects us.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Xi “appreciates the strategic choice Mr. Duterte made to improve relations with China during his presidency.”

“The development of the two countries is rooted in the good, neighborly and friendly peripheral environment and the Asian family of win-win cooperation,” Xi told Duterte, as quoted by Chinese state media. “I hope you will continue to play an important role in the friendly cooperation between the two countries.”

Amid Filipino fisherfolk’s concern over the continued presence of the Chinese Coast Guard in the WPS, Marcos in June said the Philippines and China were making progress in their discussions about fishing rights in the busy waterway.

Also in June, Marcos said the Philippines’ “healthy” and “deepening” relationship with China outweighed the two nations’ differences. (PNA)