Aquino reiterates position on disputed West Philippine Sea

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012


PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III reiterated Tuesday the Philippines' position to draft the Code of Conduct of Parties in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

He said the claimant countries within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) must first agree among themselves before conducting a dialogue with China.

“The position of the Philippines is that identifying of the fundamental elements should be internal among Asean. To begin with, it is against our policy of maintaining Asean’s centrality… we would and should engage China after the COC is finalized among us here, members,” the Chief Executive said during the Plenary Session of the 20th Asean Summit in Cambodia.

Aquino left Monday night for Phnom Pehn to join the other leaders of the Asean countries.

On Monday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario issued the statement during the Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting in Cambodia regarding the country’s position on the Spratly issue.

He said the West Philippine Sea issue should be resolved peacefully in accordance with the international law.

Del Rosario also reaffirmed the Philippines' commitment toward peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

The regional grouping commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. Asean and China signed the declaration a decade ago.

At present, a working group of the Asean senior officials is working to identify the main elements of the regional Code of Conduct before coming up with a draft.

The Code of Conduct must contain guidelines to be followed by stakeholder states that are in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In the previous Asean summit, Aquino proposed the creation of a Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation in the West Philippine Sea.

The President is in Cambodia attending the 20th Asean Summit and the 45th anniversary of the regional organization. He will fly back to Manila Wednesday evening. (SDR/Sunnex)

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