By Manny Mogato, News5 editor-at-large
(July 14, 2020) – The Philippines on Tuesday once again called on China to comply with the ruling of the international tribunal on a case it won four years ago, asking Beijing to abide by the U.N. convention on the law of the sea, the defense secretary said in a statement.
Delfin Lorenzana, a retired army general, made the call hours after its security partner, the United States, issued a strong position on China’s clams on the South China Sea, declaring it illegal and unlawful and without legal basis.
“We strongly agree with the position of the international community that there should be a rules-based order in the South China Sea,” Lorenzana said. “We urge China to comply with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling, and abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) to which it is a signatory.”
Lorenzana, a former defense attache to Washington, said it is in the best interest of regional stability that China heed the call of the community of nations to follow international law and honor existing international agreements.
“Moving forward, we continue to push for the finalization of a substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea to settle disputes and prevent the escalation of tensions in the region.” he added,
China and 10 Southeast Asian nations have been negotiating a formal code of conduct and have agreed on a single text of the draft code. Both sides may conclude talks and sign the code next year in Brunei to reduce tension in one of the emerging flashpoints in the world.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a strategic waterway where $3 trillion worth of sea-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims in the sea believed to have rich deposits of energy resources,
China has rejected the Hague ruling in 2016 as invalid and continued to pursue its claims based on history, drawing up a nine-dash-line violating the exclusive economic zones of many Southeast Asian states,
Government spokesman Harry Roque took note of China’s position. “We will agree to disagree with China on the arbitral award,” he said, adding any resolution on the dispute must be based on international law, particularly UNCLOS.
Reacting to US State Department’s statement on South China Sea, Roque said the Philippines will not take sides and push its own interests
“Pwedeng isulong sa pagkakaibigan sa Tsina, may relasyon sa ekonomiya sa kalakalan, at isantabi ang di magpakasunduan kasama na itong territorial dispute na ito.”
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