THE Philippines and China will sign five bilateral agreements during President Rodrigo Duterte’s attendance at the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing from April 25 to 27, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.
“Well, we are looking at some possible agreements in the areas of education, anti-corruption, official development assistance as well as drug rehabilitation,” said Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo Montealegre in a briefing in Malacañang.
“We are looking at five, probably,” Montealegre added, saying the agreements are “in the final stages of consultation.”
The DFA official said infrastructure agreements may be signed during Duterte’s visit.
“They are in the final stages so I can not pinpoint if there would be one but there are ongoing consultations on various agreements,” he said.
In Beijing, Montelagre said Duterte will have a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
On April 27 Duterte will be one of the speakers during the leaders’ roundtable meeting.
Forty world leaders, including United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, are expected attend the forum.
During the bilateral meeting between Duterte and Xi, Montealegre said the two leaders will discuss regional and international issues. However he could not categorically say if Duterte would raise the issue on the West Philippine Sea.
“I cannot speculate on the specific agenda items that they will be discussing but in the meeting with President Xi Jinping they are expected of course to chart the course of further development of bilateral relations in various areas like defense security, economics and development as well as regional and international issues of mutual importance,” he said.
“With Premier Li Keqiang, they are expected to discuss in more detail cooperation in various areas, including infrastructure, trade and investments, people to people relations as well as regional cooperation,” he added.
The foreign affairs official assured Filipinos that the President would stick to the Philippines’ claims in the West Philippine Sea.
“As far as the South China Sea [and] the Spratlys, the President has always been saying that we will stick to Philippine interests and positions,” he said.
The DFA filed various diplomatic protests after Chinese vessels were spotted around the Philippine-occupied Pag-asa island.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. had earlier said the government would take legal action against China for illegally harvesting endangered giant clams and destroying fragile corals at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.