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Palace: Multilateral approach best action to resolve sea dispute

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Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

A multilateral approach is the “best course of action” to take in dealing with issues pertaining to the South China Sea, as China and the Philippines are not the only countries involved in the claims disputes in that region, said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.

“The multilateral approach is an approach where all claimants to South China Sea (territories) are involved,” he said, referring to Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei in addition to the Philippines and China.

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“How does one enforce a claim where other country-claimants are also making a stake on those areas as well? So how do we resolve that?” he asked.

According to Lacierda, the solution is to “[go] through an objective panel, which is the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Itlos), and that’s what we’re doing.”

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“The other consideration that we’ve done is by going through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) because we are all members of a regional bloc and we have come up with the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea,” he said.

Asked to comment on Vice President Jejomar Binay’s call for the strengthening of the country’s bilateral relations with China, he said, “We continue to establish and further and better the relations that we have with China by way of trade, by way of culture, by way of tourism.”

“And that’s being done,” Lacierda added.

Binay on Wednesday sought to clarify an earlier statement he made that the Philippines should engage in joint ventures with China in the disputed areas of the South China Sea. He clarified that he was speaking about the two countries’ existing trade and business agreements.

“I would just like to make a correction… What I meant was the investments here and not our fight for sovereignty over the disputed areas in the Spratly islands,” Binay told a media forum at the Luneta Hotel.

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