Zubiri says WPS row to be tackled during 31st AsPac Parliamentary Forum
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the West Philippine Sea row may be among the things that might be tackled during the 31st Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF), which the Philippines will host.
“We have a plenary. All members are included in the plenary and we will have breakout committees. The breakout committees will be headed by political and security matters, economic and trade matters and regional cooperation,” Zubiri told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday.
“So definitely, possibly on regional cooperation and security matters, the issue happening in WPS will be discussed. But as host – because China is also included [and] they are sending a delegation – we don’t want trouble, we are trying to promote peace and stability,” he said, partly in Filipino.
Asked if the Philippine Senate will voice out its previous statements against China’s aggressions in Philippine waters, Zubiri said “we have to tone it down.”
“We need to be very diplomatic here and moderate our grievances with our neighbors here in Asia. We are trying to make sure that it is not combative because we do not want APPF members to leave the Philippines with a sour face,” he explained.
The Senate chief then stressed that the position of the Philippines will always be the same.
Citing President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s words, Zubiri said the country will not lose an inch of territory to anyone.
“[But] at the same time, we will be a friend to all and enemy to none,” he added.
Apart from the West Philippine Sea situation, Zubiri said trade cooperation will also take the center stage of the discussions during the APPF.
“That will be number one, particularly with the advent of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), we have just passed RCEP within Asean and several countries like Korea, Japan, China so definitely we will weigh in heavily also with trade discussions,” he pointed out.
With the theme “peace and prosperity for the region,” the senator said sustaining growth rate will definitely be discussed.
“It will be interesting to see their perspective in terms of economic growth and prosperity,” he added.
After nearly three decades, the Philippines will once again host the APPF.
This year’s forum will be held at the Philippine International Convention Center from November 23 to November 25.