A cooperation agreement among the Philippines, the United States and Japan will change the dynamic in the South China Sea and the region, President Marcos said on Friday, while seeking to assure China it was not a target.

'I think the trilateral agreement is extremely important,' Marcos told a press conference in Washington, a day after meeting US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in the nations' first trilateral summit.

'It is going to change the dynamic, the dynamic that we see in the region, in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), in Asia, around the South China Sea,' the chief executive added.

The three leaders expressed 'serious concerns' about China's 'dangerous and aggressive behavior' in the South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion of annual ship-borne commerce with various maritime disputes among China and other countries.

Still, Marcos said the summit was 'not against any country' but had focused on deepening economic and security relations between Manila, Washington and Tokyo.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, despite a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration found Beijing's sweeping claims had no legal basis.

Philippine and Chinese ships have had a series of run-ins in the past month that included the use of water cannons by the latter and heated verbal exchanges.

Beijing on Thursday summoned Manila's ambassador to the country and a Japanese embassy official to oppose what its foreign ministry described as 'negative comments' against China.

The deepening China-Philippines row coincides with an increase in security engagements with the US under Marcos, including expansion of US access to Philippine bases, as well as with Japan, which is expected to sign a reciprocal troop pact with Manila.

Biden has asked Congress for an additional $128 million for infrastructure projects at the Philippine bases.

Marcos also expressed confidence that around $100 billion in possible investment deals over the next five to 10 years from the summit will come to fruition.

While in Washington, Marcos also met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who assured him of continued US support.

'This whole cooperation is critical to our collective security and continued prosperity across the region,' Austin said, reiterating Biden's strong defense commitment.

A strategic victory

Speaker Martin Romualdez said Marcos scored a strategic victory for the country after securing the solid commitment of the US and Japan in upholding our country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Romualdez cited the Joint Vision Statement that Biden, Kishida and Marcos released, following their historic trilateral meeting in Washington DC on Thursday, expressing opposition against aggressive conduct of China's Coast Guard and fishing militia vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

The three leaders also stressed that according to the final and legally binding July 12, 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling, Ayungin Shoal lies within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, and called on China to abide by the ruling.

'President Marcos Jr.'s steadfast leadership and diplomatic initiatives significantly advanced our country's national interests, especially in upholding our sovereignty and safeguarding our territorial integrity, particularly in the West Philippine Sea,' said Romualdez.

'The commitment of the United States and Japan to support the Philippines in defending its sovereignty and promoting regional peace is a testament to the strength of bilateral and multilateral partnerships in addressing complex security challenges,' he added.

In his opening statement at the historic trilateral meeting, Biden reiterated that 'any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels or Armed Forces in the South China Sea would invoke our Mutual Defense Treaty.'

Romualdez expressed hopes the historic trilateral meeting would serve to de-escalate the simmering tensions in the West Philippine Sea for the mutual benefit of all the stakeholders.

He stressed that Marcos enjoys the full support of the House of Representatives for his efforts to protect our nation's interests in the West Philippine Sea and in promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

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