China's comments on US-PH defense guidelines not directed at us --- PBBM

WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. brushed off comments made by China on the Philippines-United States defense guidelines, saying it is the country's right to establish such with its allies.

President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. (Photo courtesy of KJ Rosales/PPA Pool)

Marcos also believed the latest statement made by China was not directed to the Philippines. He said it was proper and right for the Philippines to forge agreements with its partner nations.

China said it firmly opposes any country’s move to meddle in the South China Sea issue "to harm China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests by citing the guidelines."

It added that the South China Sea is "not a hunting ground for forces outside the region."

The President, however, thought the statement was not directed to the Philippines.

"Well, I do not think (that) representing (myself) as a Filipino and representing the Philippines, I don’t feel alluded to...So I think that kind of statement was directed more towards the United States than it was for the Philippines," Marcos said during his post-visit briefing here on Thursday night.

"And that is I think only right and proper because we in the Philippines need to do this if we are going to go forward and find new opportunities for our people at hindi naman masasabi na walang karapatan ang Pilipinas na gawin lahat ‘yun. Kaya’t ‘yang statement na ‘yan ay sa palagay ko ay hindi naka-direct sa Pilipinas (and they cannot tell that the Philippines has no right to do that. So, I think that statement was not directed to us)," Marcos added.

'We're not there yet'

One of Marcos' goals in visiting the US was to bring up the need for the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and US to evolve.

However, as he concluded his five-day visit here, he said the situation has not developed to the point of determining specific provisions in the treaty that need to evolve.

"We are not yet there. What we did in this trip and what we have managed to formulate are the guidelines pa lang doon sa mga magiging provision at saka magiging detalye (on the provisions and details," he said.

"But the premise continues to be the same. It’s a strengthening of relationship and we… The word 'evolve' is one that I have been using and that other people have seem to have adopted because that is exactly what it is that we need to do," he added.

The President stressed that the relations need to evolve "because the situation that we face is evolving."

"And when I speak about the evolving situation, I’m not only talking about security and defense. I’m talking about trade and I’m talking about economy. I’m talking about climate change. I’m talking about all the other aspects of our society, of our economy and even our government that we have to --- we have to adjust as a response to what changes we are facing," he said.