TOAST TO VIETNAM. President Marcos offers a toast to Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong and First Lady Phan Thi Thanh Tam during the state banquet in his honor at the International Convention Center in Hanoi, Vietnam on Tuesday night. The Philippines signed a five-year deal with Vietnam to ensure a steady supply of affordable rice to the country as global prices of the staple continue to surge. PPA POOL



President Marcos raised the possibility of pursuing a separate bilateral code of conduct in the South China Sea with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“What I was saying before about having an agreement, if we cannot finish the code of conduct with ASEAN and China, I said let us make it bilateral first with the members of ASEAN,” the President said after his two-day state visit in Vietnam.

Mr. Marcos said his visit signals the beginning of the dialogue in crafting the COC between the two nations.

Asked when talks on the COC with Vietnam would begin, the Chief Executive said: “We’re pretty much there.”

“That’s the memorandum of understanding (MOU) we’re working on between our two coastguards and the plans to have joint cruises, joint exercises this year 2024,” Mr. Marcos said, referring to one of the MOUs he signed with Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong on Tuesday.

The Philippines and Vietnam are both claimants in the tension-filled South China Sea and share the same sentiments against China’s massive claims in the region.

“Well, the agreement is between Vietnam and the Philippines. So, whatever other countries do, that’s not included,” Mr. Marcos said.

Earlier, Mr. Marcos said the South China Sea remains to be a “point of contention” during his call with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Ching.

Mr. Marcos said the Philippines continue to uphold the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

‘’On regional and international issues, the South China Sea remains to be a point of contention. The Philippines’ position on the South China Sea has been consistent, clear, and firmly anchored in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,’’ he said.