Duterte ‘disappointed’ over delay in crafting of COC
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday expressed his disappointment over the delay in the crating of a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea at the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit, according to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
“The Palace confirms that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte attended the 34th ASEAN Summit Retreat today, June 23, where he expressed concern and disappointment over the delay in the negotiations for a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea,” Panelo said in a statement.
“The Chief Executive explained that the longer the delay for an early conclusion of the COC, the higher the probability of maritime incidents happening and the greater the chance for miscalculations that may spiral out of control,” he added.
The COC seeks to prevent tensions in the disputed areas in the South China Sea.
The Philippines serves as the coordinator of the ASEAN-China dialogue partnership from 2018 to 2021, which includes negotiations for the COC.
“As country coordinator for ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, together with fellow ASEAN member-states, the Philippines will continue to push for the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” Panelo said.
Panelo said the President also urged other leaders of Asean to “to remain united and steadfast in protecting time-honored principles of international law.”
“He expressed his support for the Philippines to adopt the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific to reaffirm ASEAN’s strategic role and the vision of a closely integrated Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions,” Panelo said.
Duterte is not afraid of any foreign country
Panelo said the President’s remarks at the retreat manifested his confidence in communicating the country’s interests before other leaders and countries.
“The President’s remarks during the 34th ASEAN Summit Retreat underscored the fact that the President Duterte is not beholden to or afraid of any foreign country. He said that he is confident in articulating in clear and unequivocal terms the position of the Philippines as regards its interests before the global stage,” Panelo said.
The spokesperson added that the retreat also showed Duterte’s guiding philosophy: “Respect for the rule of law, and recognition of the sovereign equality of all nations as well.”
The President had previously called for the conclusion of the COC.
In his recent visit to Japan, he also pushed for the conclusion of the COC as it would help avoid instances of rising tension which are rooted from conflicting territorial claims.
Thank you, Vietnam
During the retreat, Panelo said the President also extended his gratitude towards Vietnam through its Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc for the rescue of 22 Filipino fishermen who had been floating for hours in the middle of South China Sea after being rammed by a Chinese fishing vessel.
The Chinese crew reportedly left the Filipino fishermen floating at sea following the incident.
“President Duterte took the occasion to thank the captain and crew of the Vietnamese fishing vessel who saved our fishermen near Recto Bank, stating that this act of kindness and compassion will always be remembered by the Philippines and its people,” Panelo said.
(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)
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