MANILA, Philippines – A Philippine official says President Rodrigo Duterte will issue a formal order declaring a sprawling lagoon in a disputed shoal a maritime sanctuary where Filipinos and Chinese will be prohibited from fishing.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said in a statement Monday that Duterte relayed his plan to Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting on the sidelines of the just-concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Peru.
Cabinet officials present at the meeting say Xi did not say whether he agreed or not to Duterte's plan in the Scarborough Shoal.
China seized Scarborough in 2012 after a tense standoff with the Philippines. Duterte's plan is delicate because it may imply Philippine territorial control in a strategic shoal, which China guards with coast guard ships.