MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said an agreement between the Philippines and Vietnam on maritime cooperation will bring stability amid issues in the South China Sea.
Marcos underscored the importance of enhancing maritime cooperation between the two countries during a meeting with outgoing Vietnamese Ambassador Hoay Huy Chung, Malacañang said in a release Thursday. According to the Palace, the president is looking forward to signing the deal.
“Now that we are going to start discussions on the agreement that we have between the Philippines and Vietnam, I think it is a very, very important part of our relationship and it will bring an element of stability to the problems that we are seeing now in the South China Sea,” Marcos was quoted as saying.
He added the deal on maritime cooperation is “going to be a very big step.”
The chief executive also said that Manila and Hanoi have a solid agreement, making it easier for them to face “common challenges” related to territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Brunei claim parts of the sea that China claims as almost entirely its own. A 2016 arbitration ruling declared that Beijing’s all-encompassing “nine-dash line” has no legal basis.
Tensions between Manila and Beijing escalated again last week after the China Coast Guard blocked and fired water cannons at Philippine boats on a resupply mission for troops deployed on BRP Sierra Madre, preventing one of the charter boats from reaching Ayungin Shoal.
The Philippines summoned Monday Beijing’s envoy Huang Xilian and issued a note verbale protesting China’s “illegal actions.” The government has issued 445 diplomatic protests over Beijing’s presence and activities in the West Philippine Sea since 2020, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. — Gaea Katreena Cabico