Marcos urges Indo-Pacific countries to reject ‘hierarchy-imposing narratives’


SINGAPORE. President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. calls on other countries in the Indo-Pacific region to unite in upholding equality among nations and rejecting any narrative that imposes a hierarchy among states.
SINGAPORE. President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. calls on other countries in the Indo-Pacific region to unite in upholding equality among nations and rejecting any narrative that imposes a hierarchy among states.RTVM

PRESIDENT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. made a call on Friday, May 31, 2024, for countries in the Indo-Pacific region to unite in upholding equality among nations and rejecting any narrative that imposes a hierarchy among states.

In his speech during the 21st International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Marcos urged countries to support the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations’ (Asean) efforts to build a rules-based, people-oriented, and people-centered regional community “not only with words but with action.”

“We must reject unjust narratives that seek to subsume distinct national interests [into] so-called ‘major country’ dynamics, which seek to impose hierarchy amongst nations,” Marcos said.

“Those who came before us worked painstakingly throughout the last century to bury the era of spheres of influence and of buffer states. We should not allow its ghost to haunt our region once again,” he added.

Marcos said that amid “misleading narratives” that seek to discredit international legal procedures, there is a need to reaffirm that these modalities are an expression of good faith.

He said they are a service to the progressive development and codification of international law and that “they are never an unfriendly act.”

West Philippine Sea

Earlier, the Philippine government warned against China’s “false narratives” on matters pertaining to the West Philippine Sea (WPS), particularly on what it claims to be an "agreement" with Filipino officials for the removal of the BRP Sierra Madre, which was deliberately grounded in the Ayungin Shoal to signify the country’s sovereignty and other strategies in a bid to manage the situation in the disputed territory.

China has been insisting on sovereignty in the WPS, releasing in August 2023 an updated “official standard map” of its geographical territories, which includes a ten-dash line, previously a nine-dash line, claim to the South China Sea.

It refused to recognize an arbitral ruling invalidating its claims within the sea areas falling within the nine-dash line, which is over 90 percent of the WPS.

The Philippine government has filed hundreds of protests against China in the past years over the harassment of either Filipino troops or fishermen in the disputed waters.

China has recently issued an order for the detention of trespassers in the WPS, which will take effect on June 15.

It also imposed a unilateral fishing ban in the WPS from May 1 to September 16.

The Philippines, however, maintained that Filipinos are still allowed to fish in the area as it maintained owning it.

In his speech, Marcos stood firm that the Philippines is drawing the line on its waters based on international law, not from imagination noting the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the "binding” 2016 arbitral award, which both affirms the country’s legal rights in the WPS.

“In this solid footing and through our clear moral ascendancy, we find the strength to do whatever it takes to protect our sovereign home — to the last square inch, to the last square millimeter,” said Marcos.

“We cannot allow anyone to detach it from the totality of the maritime domain that renders our nation whole. As President, I have sworn to this solemn commitment from the very first day that I took office. I do not intend to yield. Filipinos do not yield,” he added.

Marcos reiterated that the life-giving waters of the WPS flow in the blood of every Filipino.

The chief executive, however, maintained the Philippines’ commitment to addressing and managing difficult issues through dialogue and diplomacy.

During a question and answer session, Marcos defended the Philippines from accusations that it is destroying the peace in the Indo–Pacific and deviating from the real concept of centrality in Asean.

“And if there have been distractions in the recent past, it’s time to return and to remember the core principles of Asean’s establishment aimed at advocating the common interests of nations and partnerships at the multilateral level,” he said, noting that the Philippines remains true to the principles upon which Asean was born.

The dialogue provides an open, inclusive and neutral platform for the exchange of perspectives and ideas on defense and security issues in the Indo-Pacific region. It is commonly attended by defense ministers, permanent heads of ministries, and military chiefs of mostly Asia-Pacific states. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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