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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Code of Conduct in South China Sea major agenda with President Xi—President Duterte

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte answers queries from members of the media following the oath-taking ceremony of the newly promoted officers of the Philippine National Police at the Malacañan Palace on August 8, 2019. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte earlier this month said that he would discuss with Chinese President Xi Jinping the United Nations arbitral tribunal’s ruling favoring the Philippines and the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea when he meets the Chinese leader this month.

It was announced that the President will make his 5th visit to China to meet President Xi and watch the Gilas Pilipinas compete in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in Foshan, China.

In an interview with reporters in Malacañang during the oath taking of newly promoted police officers, President Duterte said the South China Sea is becoming a very big issue, stressing that he does not want trouble for his country.

“So I’d talk about the arbitral ruling itself and then the Code of Conduct. And ‘yung other sides…‘yung mga marine resources, let us first be sure that we have the access. And I’m most interested in the exploitation of the natural resources,” the President told reporters.

If it’s without touching on the validity of who’s the real owner, we can start the talks, he said.

“I’d talk first about jurisdiction, the COC, and the exploitation of the natural resources of my country since as far as I’m concerned, we own it. So that is my position.”

President Duterte pushed for the completion of the COC during his attendance to the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Thailand last June.

Leaders from Southeast Asia have also committed to fast-track the completion of an effective COC in the disputed South China Sea in the wake of the ramming of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel in Recto Bank.

The ASEAN and China have so far came up with the non-binding 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

Meanwhile, the President has expressed his openness to the use of Dengvaxia in the midst of mounting dengue cases in the country.

“Yes, I am open to the use of Dengvaxia again. Maraming patay ‘yan. It’s an epidemic,” he told reporters. “I want to hear the words of the experts…doctors. And we have enough bright people here to tell us.”

There is no need to rely on foreign experts, he said, stressing, “My own Filipino scientists and doctors would tell me what to do. I will be guided by their announcements.”

The Department of Health (DOH) wants the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to convene a full council meeting. It also declared a national dengue epidemic in the wake of the 146,062 cases recorded since January up to July 20 this year, 98 percent higher than the same period in 2018. There were 622 deaths.

The DOH Dengue Surveillance Report revealed that Western Visayas region had the most number of cases at 23,330, followed by CALABARZON with 16,515, Zamboanga Peninsula with 12,317, Northern Mindanao with 11,455, and SOCCSKSARGEN with 11,083 cases.

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