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Presidential candidate urges Philippines to be tougher on China

According to Bloomberg, Philippine presidential candidates are calling for the country to take a tougher stance against China on the South China Sea issue.

Speaking at a debate session before the Philippine election commission, Vice President Leni Robredo said the Philippines needed to lobby for ASEAN to soon establish a code of conduct with China. She mentioned the 2016 arbitration court ruling that rejected Beijing’s nine-dash line claim.

The presidential candidate calls for the Philippines to be tougher on China - 1

Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo. (Photo: Bloomberg)

Meanwhile, former Philippine Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzale said that ASEAN should switch to a majority voting mechanism. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said he would ask the United Nations to recognize the 2016 ruling.

China and ASEAN have worked together to form a code of conduct in the South China Sea for many years.

In addition to the candidates mentioned above, there are many Philippine presidential candidates participating in the second round of debate of the electoral commission, including senators Panfilo Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, former presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella. Other topics covered during the event included issues in Myanmar, human rights, political reform and climate change.

General elections in the Philippines will take place on May 9, in which positions from the president, vice president, to senators and positions on the city council will be elected.

One of the presidential candidates leading in the polls is Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

In January, Marcos Jr. He said that if he wins, he plans to negotiate an agreement with China to resolve disputes in the South China Sea and strengthen ties with the US and Russia. ASEAN can also help resolve the issue at sea, he added.

The former president’s son insists he will not side with any superpower and creates his own foreign policy.

His stance is said to be similar to that of President Rodrigo Duterte, who seems to be aiming for a friendlier relationship with China while maintaining cooperation with the United States. Under the Duterte administration, the Philippines has repeatedly diplomatically protested China’s presence in the South China Sea.

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