Duterte off to Cambodia today
President Duterte is flying to Cambodia today (Tuesday) for a two-day state visit where he is expected to push for the rule of law and peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea.
Mr. Duterte is scheduled to have a royal audience with King Norodom Sihamoni and a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The South China Sea issue may be tackled in the bilateral meeting with Hun Sen under the ambit of regional defense and security issues, Charles Jose, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said last week.
Cambodia, a staunch ally of China, had blocked recent efforts to mention Manila’s arbitration court victory against Beijing in statements issued by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
The United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration, acting on a complaint filed by the Philippines, had invalidated China’s claim to nearly the whole of the South China Sea. Beijing refused to recognize the ruling.
According to Jose, the Philippines had been “quite happy” with the Asean statement on the South China Sea issue during its last summit, but the President could be expected to underscore his push for the rule of law in addressing the dispute during his Cambodia visit.
“But on the part of the Philippines, I think the President will be reiterating the country’s firm commitment to the peaceful settlement of the dispute and one that is also in accordance with the rule of law,” Jose said.
He also said the Philippines and Cambodia have been working closely under the Asean framework to resolve the South China Sea issue.
During his meeting with Hun Sen, Mr. Duterte is expected to discuss trade, the protection of Filipino-Cambodian migrant workers, and cultural and tourism cooperation with Vietnam, said Jose.
A memorandum of agreement on sports development may also be signed between the two countries, he said.
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