FORMER Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to look kindly on the Philippines during their meeting in Beijing last month, according to the Senate president.

The sea dispute between the two nations was never brought up during the meeting, Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri told CNN Philippines on Thursday, citing President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

Mr. Marcos Jr. met with Senate leaders on Wednesday night after meeting with Mr. Duterte at the presidential palace, the senator said.

“What he mentioned to us was during the duration of President Duterte’s meeting with Xi Jinping, the topic of the West Philippine Sea was never brought up,” Mr. Zubiri said, referring to areas of the waterway within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” T. Go, a close friend of Mr. Duterte, told reporters the tough-talking leader visited China for the inauguration of a college building named after his late mother, and was consequently invited by Mr. Xi to a meeting since they are friends.

“President Duterte went to President Marcos to report on what they talked about there,” the senator, who accompanied Mr. Duterte during the meeting with Mr. Marcos, said in Filipino.

There are now proposals from his Senate allies including Mr. Go to make him a special envoy to China, citing his “good standing” with Beijing.

Mr. Duterte’s meeting with Mr. Marcos “could be seen as a game-changer in recalibrating Philippine foreign policy amid the massive support it is getting from global powers and its engagements on rules-based norms,” said Chester B. Cabalza, founder of the Manila-based International Development and Security Cooperation.

“This is the first time former President Duterte returned to Malacañang since the election of President Marcos whom he once called a spoiled brat during the campaign season,” he said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

After news about the Duterte-Xi meeting in China, Mr. Marcos said he was hoping that the two had also talked about a June encounter in which a civilian patrol vessel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources was tailed and radioed by the Chinese Coast Guard. 

“All of these things that we are seeing now, I hope they discussed it so we can have progress.”

Last month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) rejected a Philippine government plea to stop the investigation of Mr. Duterte’s deadly drug war.

Mr. Cabalza said the ICC probe and the government’s anti-drug campaign, which Mr. Marcos vowed to implement with a focus on health rehabilitation, might have also been discussed during the Wednesday meeting.

Solicitor General Menardo I. Guevarra, Mr. Duterte’s Justice chief, was also at the palace meeting. He has said the Philippines is not legally bound to cooperate with the ICC investigation.

The ICC probe covers crimes committed in Davao City from November 2011 to June 2016 when Mr. Duterte was its mayor as well as cases during his presidency up until March 16, 2019, the day before the Philippines withdrew from it.

Also at the Marcos-Duterte meeting were Defense Secretary Gilbert C. Teodoro, Jr., Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin, former Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Special Assistant to the President Antonio Lagdameo, Jr.

“Mr. Duterte remains a strong political figure in the country given the political dynasty that he founded with his daughter, Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is a potential contender for the presidency in 2028,” Mr. Cabalza said. — Norman P. Aquino and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza