Duterte to push for code of conduct at Asean summit
BANGKOK, Thailand — President Rodrigo Duterte plans to push for the code of conduct in the South China Sea when he meets with the other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to prevent tensions from escalating in the disputed waters, Philippine officials said here Saturday.
Incoming Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, former secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs who is part of the President’s delegation to Bangkok, said the President mentioned that he would discuss the West Philippine Sea issue at the Asean summit, particularly the efforts to lay down guidelines on how to act in the area.
The Philippines is the coordinator of the ASEAN-China dialogue partnership from 2018 to 2021, and it is handling the negotiations between the regional bloc and Beijing to come up with the code of conduct.
“He will push the code of conduct in the Asean to prevent a repeat of incidents that will hurt not just feelings but also the livelihood and the lives of Filipinos, especially the downtrodden, like fishermen and farmers,” Cayetano told reporters.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo also said the President planned to talk about the code of conduct at the Asean summit.
“He will raise [the question of]: What right do you have to claim all the seas fronting you?” Panelo said.
But Panelo said he did not know if the President would bring up the incident at Recto Bank, where a Chinese vessel rammed and sank a Filipino fishing boat and left 22 distressed fishermen at sea. Vietnamese fishermen came to the rescue of the shipwrecked Filipinos.
This would not be the first time that the President would call for the completion of the code of conduct.
During a visit to Japan last month, he also pushed for the conclusion of the code in order to ease regional tensions stemming from conflicting claims.
Efforts to craft the code began in 2002.
(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)
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