DFA backs Brunei’s Code of Conduct for Spratlys claimants

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DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) expressed on Tuesday its support for Brunei’s move to pursue a code of conduct among claimants to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as the sultanate assumed the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) this January.

Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, the DFA spokesman, described the Philippines’ stance as ‘hopeful’ about the prospects for negotiations among natiobns with conflicting claims to the territories, specifically China.

“We are very supportive of Brunei’s Asean chairmanship. We hope that with Brunei’s leadership, negotiations with China on a binding Code of Conduct of parties in the [West Philippine Sea] could be immediately undertaken,” Hernandez said on Tuesday.

Oil-rich Brunei assumed the chairmanship of the 10-member Asean this month, a changing of the guard that came after a year that was marked with disagreements within the bloc on how to handle the dispute, especially in dealing with China.

The new leadership also comes amid rising tensions within the region, with recent Chinese moves that claimant countries have viewed as incursions into the waters, including sea patrols, military exercises, oil exploration and the fortification of a new city established to govern most of the disputed islands.

Asean members Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines have partial claims to territories within the waters, believed to be rich in oil, mineral and marine resources.  China claims almost all of the territories while Taiwan is pushing for its partial claims.

Under last year’s leadership of known China ally Cambodia, the bloc had failed to take a unified stance towards Chinese assertions in the waters, even collapsing in talks for a joint communique in the Asean ministers’ meeting in July.

Members also had conflicting views on whether to pursue talks bilaterally, as China has been asserting, or multilaterally, the approach that the Philippines and Vietnam have long been advocating.

In the absence of a binding code of conduct, the Philippines has been pushing on claimants to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and respect the delineation of exclusive economic zones within the disputed waters.

The Philippines had also many times called on China to respect provisions of the 10-year-old Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), a document that aims to deter use of force and instead promote peace and self-restraint among claimant countries in the region.

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BFOPP2LDSFJFL6KVGA52SDIVHA John

    Upgrade AFP! Create a defense research in the Philippines and hire talented engineers.
    We can protect our national sovereignty and at the same time create jobs.

  • Fz20

    Brunei gave us Sabah, but everybody took it for granted, now its gone…. history repeats…mischief reef, scarborough…

    • truth_will_set_us_free

      DON’T WORRY Fz20, WE WILL RECLAIM THOSE. MARK MY WORDS.

  • goldilock

    Vast oil and gas reserve in Brunei, Sabah and Palawan. Brunei and Sabah reserves is huge. East and West coast of Sabah contains gas and oil.

    Philippines has another in Davao Gulf but Spratly reserves near Sabah is bigger.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6FK6PTTPJPIIHBWVDCRD66TIJY Xian

    the best solution is to escalate this issue to the International Court! What I don’t undersatnd is why the Philippine gov’t is too slow or maybe too scared to go thei route! All the do is to tell China and everyone that they’ll do it but they never do!

    • http://www.facebook.com/flowsotelo Flow Sotelo

      Nope, not slow nor scared. Our country, in fact is a country of courageous tribes, like: the Sambal (Zambales people), Batanguenos, Tausug, Igorot, Waray, etc. The Philippines has more than 100 tribes as we have more than 100 languages and different cultures, so its difficult to mention every great tribe.

      The Philippine government needed to iron out the details of the peace treaty with our Muslim brothers (especially with the people of the Sultanate of Sulu: the true owners of Spratlys) before escalating the issue to UN.

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