WPS issues to be discussed in 'non-combative' way during Asia-Pacific forum — Zubiri

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
WPS issues to be discussed in 'non-combative' way during Asia-Pacific forum � Zubiri
China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel 5205 directed a military-grade laser light at BRP Malapascua, which was on a rotation and resupply mission to assist the Philippine Navy posted in Ayungin Shoal on February 6, 2023.
Facebook / Philippine Coast Guard

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said that the situation in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) will be a part of the topics to be discussed by the region’s legislators during the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) this weekend, which will also be attended by lawmakers from China.

During a media briefing, Zubiri said that the discussions on the West Philippine Sea during the three-day event will be “toned down” to come up with a resolution “generally accepted” by all country representatives in attendance.

In the last few months, Zubiri issued strongly-worded statements condemning the actions of Chinese vessels in the tense waterways after Chinese boats repeatedly interfered with the Philippines’ resupply missions to BRP Sierra Madre.

Zubiri said that the meeting among Asian-Pacific legislators will be "diplomatic.” 

“Because China will also be there, they'll be part of the event, we don't want to mess things up. We're trying to promote peace and stability and we'd like to make that a general theme of this conference," he said.

The forum will have a closed-door breakout session focused on political security and regional cooperation, and the WPS situation may be discussed during this meeting, Zubiri said. 

The Senate President added that officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs have co-drafted a resolution with Philippine lawmakers on the West Philippine Sea that they hope the country representatives will adopt during the high-level discussions.

"We're trying to make sure that it's not combative because we don't want the members of the APPF to leave the Philippines with a sour taste in their mouth," Zubiri added.

Besides the Philippines, which is this year’s host for the forum, the countries that will be represented during the forum are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Lao PDR.

Also attending the event are legislators from Malaysia, Mexico, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russian Federation, Thailand and Vietnam.

In August, the Senate adopted a resolution urging the Chinese Coast Guard and militia vessels to cease their "continued harassment" of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea — a position that Zubiri described as a "strong consensus" made alongside the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the government's task force on the West Philippine Sea.

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