President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. discussed with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday security issues in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Presidential Communications Operations (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Garafil confirmed Thursday that Marcos had a phone call with Macron.
“In the initial part of their phone conversation, the two leaders discussed the security issues facing the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea,” Garafil said in a statement.
During the phone call, Marcos told Macron that the Philippine government is exerting all efforts “to maintain the peace, to maintain the stability, keep the shipping lanes open and airways open” in the WPS.
“But may I thank France for all the support that you have given us in terms of our shared values, in terms of following the international law, especially UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and it has been of great help the messages of support and even when you sent French vessels to come and patrol. So I have to thank you, Mr. President, and France,” Marcos, as quoted by the PCO, said.
The WPS issue was tackled amid the apparent tensions between the Philippines and China because of Beijing’s presence in the Philippine waters.
In a forum in Makati City on Wednesday, Western Mindanao Command chief Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos said the military is looking at “three lines of efforts” to further enhance the Philippines’ presence in the WPS.
Carlos said the initiatives include effective occupation of all islands now occupied by the country in the WPS, establishment of a stronger naval presence and enhancement of maritime domain awareness.
Invitation to visit PH
Marcos invited Macron to visit the Philippines whenever he made a state visit to Asia, Garafil said.
Before this, French Ambassador to the Philippines Marie Fontanel on Sept. 20 also relayed Macron’s renewal of invitation for Marcos to embark on a state visit to France.
Macron told Marcos that a group of French ministers would visit Manila before the end of the year, as part of the efforts to strengthen the two nations’ bilateral ties and forge more cooperation.
Marcos said the visit of the French ministers could pave the way for the discussions on the outcome of the 10th Philippine-France Joint Economic Commission (JEC) meeting last June.
“We can work on what was just held last June, the 10th Philippine-France Joint Economic Committee Meeting. And many of the businessmen from France were able to speak to our ministers and some of the local businessmen as well,” he said.
“And so if your ministers will come to visit the Philippines then that will be the next step from that beginning,” Marcos added, as he expressed his gratitude for the long-standing bilateral ties between the Philippines and France.
During the 10th JEC meeting, the Philippines and France discussed and committed to boost bilateral cooperation in areas of infrastructure and transportation, aeronautics, energy, agriculture, electronics, maritime industry and shipbuilding.
Marcos said both the Philippines and France are taking their discussions seriously to ensure a favorable outcome for the two countries.
“This is all the product of our meetings in Bangkok and I am very happy that … Well, we have been working assiduously trying to make sure that what we discussed, we follow up, and we come to a good conclusion,” he said, citing the 75th anniversary celebration of the two nations’ diplomatic relationship and their meeting during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand last year.
Marcos said the Philippines will make close diplomatic contact with Fontanel, while everything is being discussed. (PNA)