PH stresses adherence to Unclos at Asean maritime forum
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines continues to adhere to international law in issues relating to the South China Sea, a foreign affairs official said at a recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) maritime forum.
In a statement Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Assistant Secretary Daniel Espiritu, Asean-Philippines Director-General, highlighted Manila’s adherence to international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), during the 11th Asean Maritime Forum (AMF) held online last Nov. 16.
Espiritu, according to the DFA, said the Philippines “strongly upholds” the Unclos as the “legal framework under which all ocean activities are regulated.”
“The Philippines follows a rules-based approach in the South China Sea, including assertion of the 2016 Arbitration Award on the South China Sea, which is now part of international law,” Espiritu said.
“As our President highlighted at the recent 24th Asean-China Summit, the 2016 Arbitral Award singles out no one and in fact justly favors and benefits the community of law-abiding nations by providing clarity to all, which is beyond compromise,” he added.
Espiritu further said the Philippines is “proud of the progress” in the Code of Conduct (COC) negotiations under its coordinatorship of the Asean-China Dialogue Relations from 2019 to 2021, according to the DFA.
“These include the provisional agreement on the Preamble section of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text,” the DFA added.
He also expressed the commitment of the Philippines in achieving the early conclusion of an “effective and substantive” COC that is in accordance with international law.
Meanwhile, the Philippines stressed the need to maintain peace and uphold a “rules-based regional architecture that supports international law” at the 9th Expanded AMF held last Nov. 17.
The Nov. 17 forum was attended by DFA Assistant Secretary Maria Angela Ponce together with Asean dialogue partners.
Ponce said that as an Asean member, the Philippines’ position in maintaining peace and upholding a rules-based regional architecture, particularly on the South China Sea, is anchored on the Unclos as well as the historic 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague.
The PCA ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016 invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim. Beijing has repeatedly refused to recognize the ruling.
Ponce, during the forum, said the Philippines welcomes the “growing chorus of nations affirming the Award,” according to the DFA.
The Asean maritime forums come as Philippine authorities flag a recent incident in the West Philippine Sea, where Chinese Coast Guard vessels “blocked and water cannoned” Philippine supply boats on a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.
DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he has already spoken to Chinese ambassador Huang Xilian and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing to protest and condemn the incident, reminding them that a public vessel is covered by the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty.
Subscribe to our global nation newsletter
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.