PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has expressed "concern and disappointment" over the delayed negotiations for the crafting of a legally binding Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, Malacañang said Sunday, June 23.
During the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit held in Bangkok, Thailand on Sunday, the President renewed his call for the 10-man regional bloc and China to hasten the process of creating a binding sea conduct, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
Duterte, as the country's coordinator for Asean-China Dialogue Relations, stressed that delays in the negotiations for a substantive and effective COC are detrimental to the region," his spokesperson noted.
"He (Duterte) expressed concern and disappointment over the delay in the negotiations for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea," Panelo said.
"The Chief Executive explained that the longer the delay for an early conclusion of the COC, the higher the probability of maritime incidents happening and the greater the chance for miscalculations that may spiral out of control," he added.
The President's call came in the wake of the ramming and abandonment of a sinking Philippine fishing vessel by a Chinese trawler near Recto (Reed) Bank in the disputed South China Sea on June 9.
In a press statement issued by Palace early Monday morning, June 24, Duterte was quoted as saying: 'The faster we finish the process, the more credible Asean and China will be as partners for security and stability."
Panelo said that pending the crafting of the sea code, the Chief Executive would continue to push for the "full and effective" implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea.
The DOC, signed by 10 Asean members and China on November 4, 2002, aims to exercise self-restraint and prevent non-militarization within the contested waters. However, tensions have continued to escalate among South China Sea claimants despite the DOC.
He added that Duterte emphasized the need for Asean member-states to remain united and steadfast in protecting time-honored principles of international, as he noted that the President's guiding philosophy was "respect for the rule of law, and recognition of the sovereign equality of all nations as well."
"The President’s remarks during the 34th Asean Summit Retreat underscored the fact that President Duterte is not beholden to or afraid of any foreign country. He said that he is confident in articulating in clear and unequivocal terms the position of the Philippines as regards its interests before the global stage," the Palace official said. (SunStar Philippines)