PHL, China relations 'a little bettering' — Aquino

October 17, 2012 11:07 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Oct. 17 — President Benigno Aquino III said Wednesday there has been "a little bettering" in bilateral relations between the Philippines and China.

Aquino, at the forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) held at the Manila Hotel, said "there is some degree of change in terms of a little bettering of the situation. I have to emphasize 'a little bettering' of the situation compared to where it was at the height of the tensions."

But he admitted that both countries are "still a long way from really taking it back to where it was."

"We are still hoping that we will resolve this amicably; that reasonable voices will prevail; and that both sides are really geared towards arriving at a solution that will satisfy not just the bilateral concerns, but more importantly, I guess the multilateral concerns affecting this issue," he added.

The President said the government is still keeping the option of bringing its territorial disputes with China before the United Nations' International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

"In terms of ITLOS, there are several law firms that we are consulting that are conversant in international law to precisely chart the course of how we will utilize the legal procedures in international law to advance our claims," he said.

President Aquino said he recognized that China is undergoing a transition which hopefully will happen by the end of November, "where there, hopefully, will be less nationalistic pressures on whoever the leadership will be."

"But the little warming up is that they have initiated dialogue with us — initially at Vladivostok, but that didn't push through but subsequently at the China-ASEAN Expo," he said.

The President, however, said the messages were "practically the same only there are some differences."

"That's why I said that there seems to be a very gradual warming up. I want to be very precise. So we are hopeful that this gradual warming up will be really warmed up by the time of the transition," he said.

President Aquino remains hopeful that the territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) will be resolved with all parties concerned amicably.

"We are still hoping that we will resolve this amicably; that reasonable voices will prevail; and that both sides are really geared towards arriving at a solution that will satisfy not just the bilateral concerns but more importantly I guess the multilateral concerns affecting this issue," he said.

"At the end of the day, we all are committed to improving the life of our people," he added. (PNA)

HBC/LGI

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