Diplomacy ‘best way’ to address maritime dispute but PH ready to deter aggression — envoy | Global News

Diplomacy ‘best way’ to address maritime dispute but PH ready to deter aggression — envoy

/ 01:45 PM July 12, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Diplomacy is the best way to address the dispute in the South China Sea, but should aggression arise, the Philippines is ready to deter it, a Philippine envoy said on Tuesday.

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Philippine Ambassador to the United States Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez made the remark during the sixth anniversary of the Philippine victory in the arbitration case against China.

“[W]e remain optimistic that the best way forward is still diplomacy. Nevertheless, we are prepared to deter aggression. We believe in the merit of finishing negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea that claimant states, including China, must agree on,” Romualdez said in a media forum in Makati City.

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“All parties or stakeholders must support this process and exercise restraint and cooperation to prevent tensions from escalating further,” he added.

The envoy noted that the Philippines’ biggest foreign policy challenge during the administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is China and the maritime tension in the South China Sea.

Romualdez said that the country’s “foreign and security policies must not only be clear and cohesive, they must also be adaptive and resilient to potential threats, driven by national interests.”

“Having said that, I continue to hope that contentious issues surrounding the Indo-Pacific would be resolved in a peaceful manner, even as we adopt an independent foreign policy that allows us to engage in mutually beneficial relationships that uphold common strategic interests, based on the recognition that each nation’s sovereignty is indisputable,” he further said.

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According to Romualdez, ASEAN has adopted an “Indo-Pacific Outlook” that defines the Indo-Pacific as a region of “dialogue, cooperation, development, and prosperity.”

He stressed that the Philippines is “fully supportive of these principles and ideals outlined” by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The envoy also pointed out that the country “must leverage existing strategic partnerships and build on alliances with like-minded states to defend our territorial integrity and contribute to the international effort to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, prevent maritime terrorism, and counter illegal activities including the exploitation of the natural resources within the country’s exclusive economic zone.”

JMS

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TAGS: arbitration case decision, Diplomacy, Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez, maritime dispute, South China Sea, West Philippine Sea
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