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Palace stepping into ‘Cha-cha’

WALKING IN THE CITADEL. President Marcos walks with Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong during the public diplomacy at the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi, Vietnam on Tuesday. PPA POOL
Charles Dantes & Vince Lopez

Marcos doubts ‘PI’ role, seeks ‘simpler solutions’ via bicam system

Hanoi—President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said the administration is looking to solve the standoff between the Senate and House of Representatives on the suggested revision of the 1987 Constitution.

“It is the usual conflict between the House and the Senate, whether to vote together or separately. The best advice that we are getting, the best analysis and interpretation that we have, is that the legislature is of a bicameral nature,” President Marcos told reporters during the Kapihan with the President here.

“Now, what we are trying to figure out is how it can be done so both houses’ role in this bicameral system is preserved,” he added.

Asked about the people’s initiative as a mode for Charter change, Mr. Marcos said: “We don’t know yet. We have not made those decisions yet. I don’t know if that is still one of the options that remain for us.”

The President said he already told the leaders of both houses to come up with simpler solutions and not stir up controversy.

“What I really want there are the economic revisions that I have talked about for many, many years already, but it’s being diverted to other topics and being used for political purposes, this issue,” he said.

Mr. Marcos assured the public that the government is brainstorming to come up with a possible solution to the issue.

“That’s what we are asking the former Chief Justices… our legal counsel, si Manong JPE (Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile)… That’s what we are working on,” he said.

SCS ‘point of contention’

The South China Sea remains to be a “point of contention,” President Marcos said Tuesday during the call with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Ching as part of his two-day visit to Vietnam.

The President was expected to return to Manila early morning Wednesday after attending a state banquet in his honor here last night.

Mr. Marcos said the Philippines continue to uphold the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

‘’On regional and international issues, the South China Sea remains to be a point of contention. The Philippines’ position on the South China Sea has been consistent, clear, and firmly anchored in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,’’ he said.

The President stressed that there continues to be the undertaking of ‘’unilateral and illegal actions that violate our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, and exacerbate tensions in the South China Sea.’’

He vowed that the Philippines would continue to defend its sovereignty against any provocations in the region, noting that it will continue to address issues with China in a peaceful way.

This developed as the Philippines and Vietnam on Tuesday reaffirmed their commitment to fortify defensive capabilities and enhance maritime cooperation to maintain peace in the South China Sea.

During a meeting with Vietnam President Vo Van Thuong, President Marcos highlighted Vietnam’s role in maintaining peace and security in the region.

“Vietnam remains the sole strategic partner of the Philippines in the ASEAN region, and I am hopeful that this meeting will provide fresh opportunities to reinforce our bilateral relations with the aim of fostering peace and prosperity between our two countries and in the region,” said Mr. Marcos.

President Marcos also expressed the intention to collaborate with Vietnam on enhancing maritime security in the region.

Seeking a review of the 2010 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Search and Rescue signed with Vietnam, the President said he aimed to improve cooperation, including skills development of coastguards, to conduct a collaborative exercise this year.

Moreover, President Marcos called for strengthening the 2011 MOA on the establishment of a hotline communication mechanism using digital platforms.

As a strategic partner, the Philippines seeks to sustain the relationship with Vietnam through a series of agreements that would enhance maritime defense and security for both nations, the President said.

During his call on Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Ching, Mr. Marcos said the Philippines will continue to uphold the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

On Dec. 10 last year, the China Coast Guard again used a water cannon and damaged a Philippine vessel that was undertaking a legitimate and routine resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal, the President said. This followed a similar incident near Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal.

The President said the Philippines is willing to work with like-minded nations, such as Vietnam, in pushing for a rules-based international order in the South China Sea.

Earlier this month, China held military drills in the South China Sea as the United States and the Philippines conducted their own joint exercises in the same waters.

The drills followed a month of tense standoffs between China and the Philippines in disputed reefs in the area that saw a collision between vessels from the two countries and Chinese ships blasting a water cannon at Philippine boats.

Rice agreement

During Marcos’ two-day visit, Vietnam also agreed on a five-year trade commitment to supply up to 2 million tons of white rice to the Philippines to ensure food security “amid the impact of climate change, pandemics, and other external events,” the statement added.

Rice is a basic staple in the Philippines, but the country cannot produce enough for itself and has been one of the world’s top importers of the grain.

Prices of the grain soared to decade highs last year.

Vietnamese rice accounts for 85 percent of imported rice in the Philippines, according to official data.

Marcos also held a private meeting with Pham Nhat Vuong, CEO of Vietnamese carmaker VinFast.

The communist state’s first homegrown car manufacturer said it plans to invest in the Philippines in 2024, beginning with the establishment of a network of electric car and motorcycle dealerships.

The Philippines also hopes to participate in the electric vehicle battery supply chain, working with its “abundant reserves of cobalt, copper and nickel,” Marcos said.

In a meeting with the Filipino community in Vietnam, the President emphasized the importance of boosting bilateral relations.

The President acknowledged the contributions of the Filipino community in Vietnam, saying that their presence serves as evidence of the strong bond between the two countries.

“That’s why I’m extremely grateful to all of you. It makes my job easier because of the good reputation you are building through your hard work and perseverance here in Vietnam,” President Marcos told the Filipino community in Filipino on Monday. With AFP

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