Scarborough shoal issue reaches UN

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Saturday, May 5, 2012


FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to advance the Philippines’ commitment to settle the recent territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea through a rules-based approach based on international laws.

In a meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, both officials agreed on the importance of peaceful settlement of disputes and mediation.

Del Rosario reiterated the Philippine government’s commitment to finding a peaceful solution on the dispute based on the United Nations Charter on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and on applicable international laws.

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“We believe that the unfolding events are of great interest to all nations, as they have a stake in the peace and stability of this economically and politically strategic area,” he said.

The Philippine government has continuously decried the allegedly Chinese intrusions in its territorial waters over the past year.

The latest row in the Panatag Shoal, which sits just 124 nautical miles away from Zambales province and is within the country’s 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf, started when Philippine forces boarded eight Chinese fishing vessels to confiscate illegally caught marine species.

Two Chinese surveillance ships immediately arrived and put themselves between the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, Manila’s largest warship, and the Chinese fishing vessels.

The Philippines see this as an incursion into its territory since the Panatag Shoal sits about 500 nautical miles from China.

Beijing and Manila has overlapping claims over the contested waters in the West Philippine Sea, which includes the Spratly and Paracel Islands, as well as the Panatag Shoal.

China maintains its claim on the whole sea while the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei Darussalam have claims on parts on potentially resource-rich Spratly Islands.

In the meeting, Ban highlighted the importance of instruments on the peaceful settlement of disputes.

The Philippines has led efforts in the United Nations to mark the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes this year through a General Assembly resolution that calls on member-states “to promote and observe in good faith” the historic declaration.

Ban welcomed the Manila-initiated resolution, which was approved by consensus at the recent session on the Special Committee on the Charter of the United Nations.

The resolution is currently up for adoption at the Sixth Committee and the General Assembly.

“I hope that our work on promoting mediation will build on the groundwork already laid by the Manila Declaration,” Ban said, adding that preventing conflict is one of my five priority agendas in the UN. (CVB/Sunnex)

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