Asean wants legally binding sea code – Palace
The 10-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) would want a “somehow legally binding” Code of Conduct on the South China Sea, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said a legally binding sea code was a priority of President Rodrigo Duterte as chair of the 31st Asean Summit.
“I think that was a priority of the President because unless it becomes legally binding, we would not achieve the kind of predictability that all the countries want in order to achieve peace and stability in the region,’ Roque said in a Palace briefing.
He said Asean leaders also share the same view as Duterte in pushing for legally binding code.
“I think all the parties want it to be somehow legally binding. Otherwise, if it’s merely aspirational, then it will not promote the kind of peace and stability that they are hoping for,” he said.
Roque said a legally binding sea code would be “a key to stability in the region.”
“But we will see how negotiations go. Since we haven’t been even started with negotiations, we do not know what countries will agree upon,” he said.
Asean and China agreed on Monday to start negotiations on a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea.
“(A)s far as we’re concerned, we would want it to be legally binding. But we will see. As I said, it’s only about to commence. We do not know what they will agree upon,” Roque said.
Asked if China would agree on a legally binding sea code, Roque said, “We don’t know yet, as I said, we don’t know what they will agree upon because we’re only about to commence.”
“But from the language of the President, he has put a premium and a lot of importance on the code of conduct because we want to achieve predictability,” he said.
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