PH sees China as ‘external threat’
The Philippines is pressing its proposal for cooperation in the enforcement of maritime laws among Southeast Asian countries amid China’s increasing aggressiveness in asserting its claim to nearly all of the South China Sea.
Speaking at the 48th Foreign Ministers Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines considered China an “external threat” because of its incursions into Manila’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.
Del Rosario reiterated the Philippines’ proposal for the establishment of a system of cooperation and coordination among the coast guards and maritime law-enforcement agencies of the Asean members for keeping the peace, securing maritime trade and protecting the environment in the South China Sea.
“We are offering to host a meeting in Manila this month to consider this proposal and explore the role of this body in promoting a safe, secure, clean and peaceful maritime environment of the Asean Community,” Del Rosario said.
Del Rosario also expressed satisfaction about the achievements of the community-building efforts of Asean but said much work remained to be done.
He cited Asean’s major achievements in the political, security, economic and sociocultural fields.
But he emphasized the need to deal with the “evolving regional security architecture.”
“It has to be founded on the rule of law, especially the principles of international law as embodied in the UN charter and international conventions and regional agreements,” Del Rosario said.
By the end of 2015, the 10-nation regional bloc is expected to realize its goal to establish an Asean Community to consolidate, integrate and transform the bloc into a single economic, political-security and sociocultural region.
Collective maritime effort
“To be effective, it should be a product of the collective effort, not just of the countries in Asia but also of countries [that] have key interest[s] and stake[s] in the region,” Del Rosario said.
The Philippines will serve as cochair of the Intersessional Meeting on Maritime Security (ISM-MS) of the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) from 2015 to 2017.
“We are looking forward to host the 8th Meeting of this ISM in 2016. The workplan of the ARF ISM on MS seeks to facilitate the region’s adoption of universal regimes covering maritime security, safety of navigation and marine environmental protection,” Del Rosario said.
He emphasized the importance of maintaining and enhancing “Asean centrality” in managing regional affairs and in building the region’s security architecture.
“Our external partners should extend their appropriate support and cooperation to maintain a peaceful, stable and prosperous region. Specifically, regional cooperation must focus increasingly on addressing natural disasters, nontraditional security threats, transnational crimes, and other emerging issues,” he said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.