DFA to seek clearer definition of paragraph 5 in Asean’s conduct declaration
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines will seek before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) a clearer definition of actions that escalate tensions in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.
DFA previously announced its proposed Triple Action Plan (TAP) which aims to address the tensions in the South China Sea. The plan is composed of three steps: an immediate, intermediate, and final approach to lower tensions.
“Part of the proposal in intermediate approach is we will have to determine what actions mentioned in paragraph 5 of the Asean Declaration of Conduct (DOC) could be defined as escalating. That has not been defined before,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said in a press briefing.
Paragraph 5 of the 2002 DOC states that “The Parties undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features.”
China however has maintained that it has the right to do what it wants in the South China Sea including reclamation projects of several reefs in the Spratly Islands off the coast of Palawan.
“A Chinese official has said that they will build what they want [in the area]. Notwithstanding that statement, we will still raise the proposal at Asean during the meetings in Myanmar this August,” Jose said.
“It’s good to hear about this proposal first, it’s good for claimant countries and non-claimant countries as well as the international community to hear the proposal first and decide on the merits,” he said.
The immediate step that the Philippines wants implemented is a freeze on all activities in the disputed areas. The intermediate step is for the implementation of the DOC and the final step is the establishment of a settlement resolution of dispute particularly the arbitration case pending before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
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