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PH strategy on China up in NSC meet

President Duterte will convene the National Security Council today to discuss vital policies and strategies on important matters, including the recent ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea.

A statement from the Presidential Communications Office said the meeting is set at 3 p.m. in Malacañang.

The NSC is a collegial body chaired by the President and composed of around 35 leader-members from the Executive and Legislative branches of government, including past presidents of the Philippines.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos, whom Duterte appointed to be the Philippines’ special envoy to China, had earlier said that the council should first convene before the Philippines begins talks with China on the West Philippine Sea.

“There should be a National Security Council (meeting) first, so that the Philippine position can be defined by the group of Philippine leaders to be led by the President himself,” Ramos told reporters after a meeting with Duterte in Davao City last Saturday.

Aside from the West Philippine Sea, also to be discussed are the government’s fight against illegal drugs. The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency will give an update on the campaign.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza will provide the council with an overview of the Road Map for Peace and Development.

Among the expected participants in the first NSC meeting under the present administration are Ramos and former Presidents Estrada, Arroyo, and Aquino.

Also expected to attend are Vice President Leni Robredo, Senate President Koko Pimentel, House Speaker Bebot Alvarez, Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior and Local Govenrment Secretary Ismael Sueno, and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo. (Elena L. Aben)