MANILA The next meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping may be an opportunity for the two leaders to clarify the extent and duration of the verbal fishing deal they arrived at back in 2016.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo bared this after confirming that Duterte may make a working visit to China again this year, the fifth time since he assumed office in 2016.
What I know is there will be a China visit but the dates are not yet confirmed. It's a working visit, Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Panelo said the President mentioned his plan to revisit China again in one of his many speeches but did not elaborate whether the chief executive will be going there upon Xi's invitation.
He mentioned it pero (but) he didn't say kung siya ang gustong pumunta siya or inimbitahan siya (if he wanted to go or if he was invited), Panelo said.
However, Panelo clarified that he has yet to confirm whether the fishing deal will indeed be among the topics for discussion during their meeting.
Since they will be talking this time, e di mas magiging klaro ang usapan (then their discussions can be clarified). (But) we don't know whether that will be tackled. Let's wait, Panelo said.
It may be recalled that the 2016 fishing verbal agreement between Duterte and Xi allowed Chinese to fish within the Philippines' 200-nautical mile EEZ if China allowed Filipinos to fish in the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.
Panelo backed Senator Francis Tolentino's privilege speech saying that the President can validly enter into legally binding international verbal agreements with other states for and on behalf of the Philippines without the approval of the Senate.
Di naman lahat ng executive agreement kailangang nasa papel (Not all executive agreements have to be on paper), said Panelo who is also the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel.
In Duterte's upcoming fifth working visit to China, Panelo said Duterte and Xi are expected to discuss issues of conflict, cooperation, and support including terrorism, fighting illegal drugs, people to people exchanges, and financing.
Asked if the West Philippine Sea would also be brought up, Panelo said: That could be part of the discussion.
Panelo has yet to confirm Senator Christopher Bong Go's announcement that the chief executive might also watch Gilas Pilipinas game in the 2019 FIBA World Cup slated from August 31 to September 15.
There is no confirmation on that, Panelo said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency