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The Philippine government said on Tuesday it was "excellent" it is now in dialogue with China following their strained relationship due to a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
On July 12 marks the first year anniversary of the ruling of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration favoring the Philippines while invalidating China's historic claim over the disputed waters.
"It's excellent that we are now in dialogue with the other country," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing.
He noted that in May, both countries conducted the first meeting of the Philippines-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea.
During the meeting, he said both sides reiterated their commitment to cooperate and to find ways to strengthen the trust and confidence on issues related to the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.
"The Philippines and China have reviewed their experience on the West Philippine Sea issue, exchanged views on the current issues of concern to either side, and they have agreed that they will further discuss mutually acceptable approaches to deal with them," he said.
With reports that some Filipino fishermen were still afraid of fishing in Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea for fear of Chinese harassment, Abella said that could be taken up during the two countries' meeting this second half of the year.
"I hear what you’re saying, but basically we have the coming up --- the second meeting coming up within the bilateral, the bilateral meets and I’m sure items like that will be considered," he said.
The Philippine and China relations had been strained when the administration of President Benigno Aquino questioned China's aggressive activities in the South China Sea, even in those areas claimed by the Philippines, before the PCA and other international fora and gatherings.
But when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, he decided to have a "soft landing" with China and even put momentarily at the back burner the PCA ruling.
Duterte also embarked on a state visit to China last year and made a second trip there last May.
China has offered packages of assistance to the Philippines, raising concerns that the latter might become heavily indebted with the former at the expense of its claim in the South China Sea. Celerina Monte/DMS