"So we are not being soft on China".
"The goal of this Bilateral Consultation Mechanism is to discuss issues of concern to either side and cooperation in the South China Sea and identify mutually acceptable approaches to addressing this issue", added President Rodrigo Duterte's spokeman.
The Philippines and China will meet for the second bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM) on Tuesday (Feb. 13) to tackle their ongoing dispute on the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), Malacañang said Monday.
Asked if the government will raise China's reclamation activities during the bilateral talks, Roque said: "All these issues relevant to South China Sea are being discussed in this mechanism".
But Roque said the Philippines is not tolerating China's aggressive acts, noting that Manila has always been protesting Beijing's move to transform man-made islands into military bases.
The meeting will be led by Foreign Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo for the Philippines and Foreign Affairs Vice Minister Kong Xuanyou for China, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday, February 12, during a Palace press conference.
"We have protested not only the building of the islands but also the alleged militarization of the islands and therefore contrary to claims of critics, we have long protested the military use of the artificial islands in the South China Sea", he said.
A recent newspaper report revealed that China has almost completed the construction of military facilities on seven artificial islands in the South China Sea.
"The second meeting of this Philippine-China bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM) on South China Sea will be held here in Metro Manila tomorrow, February 13, 2018", Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a press briefing.
Roque said the second BCM meeting was originally scheduled last December, but that month was a "busy" one hence the postponement to February. Noncontentious issues such as trade and investments, on the other hand, proceed as soon as possible.
The first meeting of the Philippines-China BCM on the South China Sea was held in Guiyang, Guizhou Province in China last May 19, 2017.
Roque said that the BCM was established based on the joint statement issued after President Rodrigo R. Duterte's landmark visit to China in October 2017.