MANILA, Philippines—Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia Jr. has called on his fellow envoys in Washington DC to stand behind Manila in its arbitration bid against Beijing to clarify maritime boundaries in the West Philippine (South China) Sea.
Cuisia made this statement in pursuing the Philippines’ campaign for international support in the “rules-based approach” toward resolving the territorial dispute.
Speaking at an ambassadors’ forum in the US capital this week, Cuisia also underscored the importance of the US strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific in maintaining regional stability. Manila and Washington are currently negotiating an agreement for increased rotational presence in the Philippines amid a defense buildup.
“To support the Philippines in the path we have chosen to peacefully settle the [West Philippine Sea] dispute is to support a rules-based international order, where disputes are settled not through force or might but through an objective and just application of international law,” Cuisia said in remarks before a forum of think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington.
“We are counting on the international community to support not just the Philippines, but the primacy of the rule of law. In expressing this support, you would have contributed significantly to shaping an enduring peace for the Asia Pacific region,” said Cuisia.
The Philippines’ arbitration case, now pending before a five-member United Nations tribunal holding court at the Hague, is making progress despite China’s explicit rejection of the proceedings as it asserted its “indisputable sovereignty” over the waters.
The panel last month instructed the Philippines to file a comprehensive petition detailing its case against China by March 2014. The arbitration case aims to nullify China’s nine-dash line claim over the waters, which encompasses almost all the territories in the West Philippine Sea.
The legal action also seeks to halt Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea.