Philippines, Vietnam vow stronger coordination on maritime issues
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and Vietnam both committed for a stronger coordination in addressing maritime issues, especially on the establishment of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The DFA said both countries made the commitment during the 10th meeting of the Philippines – Vietnam Joint Permanent Working Group on Maritime and Ocean Concerns in Ha Long, Vietnam from May 15 to 16.
“The two sides agreed to strengthen coordination on maritime issues in regional and multilateral bodies, especially in working towards the conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct on the South China Sea,” it said in a statement.
Aside from talking about the situation in the disputed waters, the two nations also expressed “serious concern” over activities that were undermining peace and stability in the region.
“They committed to work together to protect their rights and legitimate interests under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and enhance confidence-building measures between relevant agencies,” said the DFA.
It likewise took note that delegations from the Philippines and Vietnam had expressed their respective governments’ appreciation “for the humane treatment accorded by both countries to Filipino and Vietnamese fisherfolk found in distress at sea.”
The DFA said the two countries also raised in the meeting improving ties in marine scientific research and environment protection, search and rescue operations, and oil spill preparedness and response, among others.
Vietnam and the Philippines are among the five claimant countries in the South China Sea.
With sweeping claims in the waterway, Beijing has aggressively undermined the Hague ruling awarded by the Permanent Court of Arbitration recognizing the Philippines’ rights in the West Philippine Sea.
In 2002, China and countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) agreed to work on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. But negotiations on the proposed framework have been stalled for years.
In February, however, China said it would work with Asean countries to fast-track consultations on the Code of Conduct.