5 nations support PH position on sea dispute



The Philippines got backing from five countries in its position on territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), a “huge victory” despite China’s fresh refusal to commit to a code of conduct in the sea, Malacañang said Wednesday.

China refused to discuss the territorial disputes during the Asean-China Summit, one of the highest-level meetings during the 21st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Phnom Penh that ended on Tuesday.

But four Asean members claiming territories in the disputed sea—Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam—agreed to hold talks in Manila on Dec. 12 to see how they could move forward discussions on their territorial disputes with China.

President Aquino, who on Monday publicly rebuked Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on his statement that Asean leaders had agreed not to “internationalize” the disputes, convinced five other leaders on the wisdom of the Philippine position on the issue.

On the President’s intervention, Asean issued a joint communiqué expressing the 10-nation bloc’s desire for a peaceful resolution of the territorial disputes, officials said.

The joint communiqué, which did not carry Hun Sen’s statement, was issued at the close of the Asean-Japan Summit in Phnom Penh on Monday.

Aquino’s intervention

In wrapping up Asean’s meeting with Japan, Hun Sen, chairman of the Asean Summit and a close ally of China, said the Asean leaders had reached a consensus that the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea should not be “internationalized” and that discussions should be confined between the bloc and China.

Mr. Aquino intervened, saying no such consensus had been reached.

“For the record, this was not our understanding.” Mr. Aquino said. “The Asean route is not the only route for us. As a sovereign state, it is our right to defend our national interest.”

“We made our stand clear to all parties with sobriety, dignity and reason. In the end, we did not only deliver our message; we [also] convinced [no fewer] than five countries to agree with our position,” Mr. Aquino said on his arrival in Manila late Tuesday.

“Before, only two were talking about the importance of the (code of conduct). Now more are saying, ‘It’s about time formal talks on the code of conduct were started to avert tension in the future,”’ he said.

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam are pushing for a code of conduct with China to minimize the risk of violent confrontations in the West Philippine Sea, home to major sea lanes vital to global trade and where islets, reefs and atolls are believed to be sitting on vast gas and oil deposits.

China said earlier that it was willing to work on a code of conduct with Asean countries at the proper time, although it doubted whether the regional bloc was the proper forum for discussions on such a code.

Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, who accompanied the President to the Asean summit, declined to identify the five countries, saying the discussions happened at the retreat sessions. He said the five were not necessarily members of Asean.

International law

The Philippines stands for the resolution of the maritime disputes with China according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), which allows coastal states 370 kilometers (200 nautical miles) of exclusive economic zone.

Besides the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also claim territory in the sea.

But China insists it has sovereignty over nearly the entire sea and refuses to discuss the overlapping claims with its rivals on any international forum. It insists on one-on-one discussions with the other claimants.

Almendras confirmed that Asean had failed to get any commitment from China on the code of conduct. But he said Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario would restart talks with his Southeast Asian counterparts soon.

Getting five countries to agree to the Philippine position was a “huge victory” given that it was facing Asia’s economic and military superpower, the President said.

“It was like a David and Goliath fight, but we stood our ground. Otherwise, who else could we turn to? Now they know: the Filipino will not back down if he’s in the right. The Filipino is good at associating with others, but we will not be oppressed,” he said.

Almendras said the exclusion of Hun Sen’s remarks from the postsummit joint communiqué was a “success” on the part of the Philippines.

Trip’s success

“I think, if you were to ask us what was the success of the Asean trip, it was precisely that—that in the final draft, at least the ones that was shown to us, and the ones that explained in the closing ceremony, that particular line that… there was an agreement that ‘South China Sea issues will not be internationalized’ was not included,” Almendras said.

“It’s not the end game. We know that it’s still gonna be a long discussion, long struggle, but at the very least, the Philippine position was made very clear to everyone. And we were very, very happy at the turn out of the support for the Philippine position during the East Asia Summit retreat session,” he said.

Almendras said that US President Barack Obama and other heads of state or government were “very attentive” when Mr. Aquino rose to dispute Hun Sen’s remarks and declared that Asean was not the only route available for the Philippines.  With reports from Tarra Quismundo and Michael Lim Ubac

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • zeroko

    Not unity but strategy makes one wins in a war.

  • Andrew Pc

    Good luck to Malaysia and Brunei…..don’t you dare not to support Philippines’ attempts to bring in her white master…or else both of you will be the next target of abuses.
    By the way, how to make the number “5”….a phantom ?…after the phantom ship saga,now it is the phantom country melodrama ?

    • Rolly257

      Di kaya apo ka ni Mao?

  • Cho


    • Andrew Pc

      How Mr. Surin (The Secretary-General of ASEAN) hope Mr.Flip-flop will be listening to your advice and stop his dancing-around, good advice.

  • Rosauro


    is not contented with having vast territory at its disposal. It appears that it
    wants to colonize the Philippines; and Vietnam as well. China is expecting the
    Philippines to engage her in a sea battle like what she did with Vietnam. The
    Philippines knows its weaknesses and strengths and knows how to use them. Surely
    China is under estimating the resolve of the Philippines in defending its
    territory because we are a poor country. But let us put the situation in this
    way; we have the tenacity to defend our right and we will prove it that we can
    do it not in terms of military power as it is not the only way to fight for our
    right. We are going to make use of our intellectual know-how with full
    determination to defeat China. While it is true that China has a vast territory
    at its disposal, it is equally true that we also have vast resources of
    intelligent people at our disposal that we can use against China and there is
    no need to go on a full shooting war with China.    

    • AFPako

      Pray for more Jose Rizals, Andres Bonifacios, Juan Lunas, Greg Del Pilars, Emilio Aguinaldos, Santo Calungsods, Apo Mabinis, etc who all have ethnic Chinese blood in them. These were the true heroes of the First Philippine Independence but their dreams and sacrifices were cut short bec dirty and greedy Americans stole it from them .  
      If these people who were the brains of the Katipunan succeeded , Pinas would had been rightfully independent.  The worst part, there were so many Makapilis and backstabbers from the  kayumangmang tribes who prefer their cozy relations with the Kachilas .

      Lured by American sweet chocolates and sweet talk , the Makapilis made their moves and led to the defeat of  true Filipino resistance against foreign invaders. 

      Yeah , right , stand up and fight China you nation of backstabbers. 

      • Alexander Aamproz

        40 % of the population was exterminated and everything not a colonial heritage
        was erased for ever, the clergy owning everything after 350 years of Damaso style ruling. This was done under American request, the churches had to give back what they don’t need for themself. For a song, everything was transfer to their relatives, the actual “elites”…. a very sad destiny for one of the best place in the World on the way to become one of the worst.

      • lucidlynx

        this has got nothing to do with race but with nationhood, you idiot! china is not our country, the philippines is! regardless of where you or your ancestors came from, the country you grew up in or adopted as your own, is your homeland.

        fighting china is not backstabbing, you imbecile!

      • Komen To

        Go back to elementary school and re study your history, you moron. Besides, some Singaporeans, Malaysians, Thais and Indonesians have Chinese blood but stand as Singaporeans, Malaysians, Thais or Indonesian. The reason we lose battle is because we have AFP with hollow brains like you. Stand as a Filipino and lay your balls in the battleground, you coward

  • lucidlynx

    anong klaseng report ito? paulit-ulit lang ang sinasabi para humaba lang. wala bang editor ang pahayagan na ito?

  • rodulio

    Six nations against a big dog and they still can’t do anything about it…but cry….waaa

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks




latest videos