Locsin says arbitral award on South China Sea is ‘final’ ; urges nations to follow rule of law

Marje Pelayo   •   June 23, 2021   •   385

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. on Wednesday (June 23) maintained that the arbitral award that clarified the Philippines’ maritime rights in the South China Sea is final.

“The award is final. We firmly reject attempts to undermine it; nay, even erase it from law, history and our collective memories,” Locsin said.

Locsin issued a statement coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the Philippines’ victory in the arbitration case.

“The award conclusively settled the status of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea,” he said.

“In summary, the award gives littoral states guideposts on how much waters their features — be they islands or rocks — can generate, where their fishermen can fish, where they can exercise law enforcement patrols, where they can send their ships without permission from the nearest state, without creating a cause of action or a casus belli (Latin term for an act used to justify a war) between them,” he added.

China claims ownership of almost the entire South China Sea on the basis of a nine-dash line.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration on July 12, 2016 debunked this claim ruling in favor of the lawsuit filed by the Philippines.

China, however, maintains it does not recognize the ruling even if tensions escalate also with other claimant countries in the area.

Through the end of Locsin’s statement, the official urges other countries to follow the rule of law.

“The present that we need and the future that we want is a peaceful South China Sea. The Philippines is committed to this for as long as it exists. For as long as nations abide by the rule of law and not of military might, the Award is the North Star that will keep us on course in the present, and that will point us back to the right direction in the future should we, in a moment of weakness or inaction, lose our way,” the Foreaign Affairs chief said.

Duterte renews call for regional unity to attain peace, stability in South China

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte has reiterated his call for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to remain united in pursuing peace, stability, and prosperity in the South China Sea, Malacañang said Wednesday.

In a press statement, the Palace said that Duterte made the remarks during the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits on Tuesday.

Duterte said the regional bloc should pursue initiatives to resolve the dispute in the contested waters in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award that favored the Philippines.

“We have come a long way in keeping the peace and promoting prosperity in our region. We must not allow those with diverging interests to make our efforts fail,” he said.

Duterte, in his intervention at the 24th ASEAN-China Summit, urged countries to translate their commitments into action regarding the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in the midst of the evolving geopolitical situation in Asia.

“Talks should not remain empty rhetoric. They should be translated into action to fortify the trust and confidence we have cultivated through the years. Acta non verba. Deeds, not words,” he said.

As claimants craft a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, Duterte lauded the Philippines’ contribution to the substantive progress in the second reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text, as the country reaffirms its commitment to the conclusion of an effective and substantive COC.

Noting 2017-2027 as the Decade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea, the president reiterated the Philippines’ call for holistic efforts to protect and preserve biodiversity and the marine environment.

Also during his intervention, the Filipino leader pointed out that a dynamic ASEAN-China cooperation puts both sides in a formidable position to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, address climate change and manage geopolitical issues.

He expressed his gratitude to China for supporting ASEAN’s pandemic response, particularly by “making life-saving vaccines global public goods,” the Palace said.

Also during the summit, the president said that ASEAN’s road to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will be long and difficult as the region reels from the impact of the contagion.

He emphasized the need for a phased and comprehensive implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and called for the immediate establishment of the ASEAN Centre on Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.

Aside from COVID-19 and the territorial dispute, the Palace said that Duterte also called on his fellow ASEAN leaders to stand with Myanmar in solving its crisis peacefully for the welfare of its people.

He likewise urged Myanmar’s political players to “engage in constructive dialogue,” and allow the ASEAN Special Envoy to visit the country.

At the 22nd ASEAN-Republic of Korea Summit, Duterte welcomed the Joint Statement on Advancing ASEAN-ROK Cooperation and underscored the need for deeper regional integration to accelerate post-pandemic recovery.

At the same time, he welcomed the signing of the Philippines-ROK Free Trade Agreement Tuesday, noting it is needed “for our economies to recover and bounce back,” the Palace said.

He also pushed for the full implementation of the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the early entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, it added.

Malacañang also said that the President welcomed the United Kingdom as ASEAN’s new Dialogue Partner and vowed to enhance relations with the European Union (EU) as the new Country Coordinator for ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations.

Duterte attended Tuesday’s summit via video conference. This is Duterte’s second straight year of virtually attending the meeting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

 

 

DND verifying report on alleged presence of a Chinese ship off Zambales

Robie de Guzman   •   August 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday said it is verifying reports on the alleged presence of a Chinese research ship that was spotted near Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said facts gathered by the maritime patrols in the area will be basis of their next course of action.

“Rest assured that the AFP, through the Northern Luzon Command, undertakes regular domain awareness operations and provides all the necessary support to the Philippine Coast Guard and other agencies to secure and implement our laws in our territorial waters and the EEZ,” he said.

Chinese and other foreign vessels have previously been spotted in contested areas in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippine government has repeatedly filed diplomatic protests on the presence of Chinese ships in Philippine waters.

 

Coalition calls for strong enforcement of 2016 arbitral ruling anew

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several groups have called anew for the strong enforcement of the 2016 arbitral ruling.

The group Citizens Alliance for Life and the Law of the Sea (CALL of the Sea) called on the Duterte Administration to strongly implement the arbitral ruling regarding the West Philippine Sea. The 2016 arbitral ruling affirmed the Philippines’ territorial claims in the South China Sea against China’s claims.

“What we must now need, moving forward is for us Filipinos and national leaders to speak as one with a clear unmistakable, consistent and emphatic voice on the enforcement of the arbitral award,” according to Atty. Joey Lina, convener of CALL of the Sea.

According to 1Sambayan led by its convener, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, only Filipinos have the right to the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“The constitution expressly declares the stay, the use of reserves and enjoyment of the nations marine wealth in its exclusive economic zone solely to Filipino citizens, clearly the president has no power to allow Chinese fishermen to fish in our exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea,

Former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Dr. Albert Del Rosario also said that President Rodrigo Duterte betrayed the constitution due to his previous statements regarding the West Philippine Sea.

“Last May 10, 2021, the President claimed his pledge to will ride a jet ski to the Spratlys, plant the Philippine flag there was a pure campaign joke. calling those who believed him as being stupid. This episode contributes to a widening belief among our countrymen that President Duterte betrayed the constitution he swore to uphold, and consequently betrayed his countrymen who rely on him to protect the West Philippine sea,” he said.

Meanwhile, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government is not giving up any natural resources in the country’s EEZ.

“We should also propagate an objective understanding of issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea to avoid being clouded by pure emotions which are being exploited by those who seek to divide rather than to unite us in our common goal. On the economic implications of the issue, we need to consistently acknowledge that the natural resources within our EEZ are for our exclusive exploitation,” he said. AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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