PHL spearheads regional dialogue to resolve West Philippine Sea dispute

April 4, 2012 10:10 pm 

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, April 4 — President Benigno S. Aquino III reiterated Wednesday the proposal for Philippines to host a meeting among claimant states in the West Philippine Sea, including China to arrive at a peaceful and diplomatic resolution on the disputed territory.

The dialogue among claimant countries will be under the auspices of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), according to the President.

“I would like to reiterate, however, our earlier proposal for the Philippines to host a meeting among claimant states, including China, under the guidance of ASEAN, in the hope that this will constitute an important step in the peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the disputes in the West Philippine Sea,” he said in a speech delivered during the Retreat Session of the 20th Asean Summit at the Peace Palace here in Cambodia’s capital.

Also, the President said the Philippines believes there would be a peaceful resolution of the dispute through a rules-based approach under dispute-settlement mechanisms of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

And as the regional grouping commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) this year, the chief executive welcomed the move of Asean to identify the elements of a regional Code of Conduct as a legally-binding instrument.

“We believe that the Code of Conduct must be a real ‘move forward’ in terms of substance, that it should contain not only provisions on cooperative activities but, more importantly, provisions on dispute settlement and the clarification and segregation of disputed and non-disputed areas,” he said.

Member states should arrive at a common and collective position on the said code before conducting a dialogue with China to create a legally-binding guideline in the West Philippine Sea, he said noting the importance of the Asean centrality in dealing with the issue.

Asean leaders met at the summit retreat Wednesday morning. President Aquino is scheduled to go back to Manila Wednesday evening after attending the two-day meeting with Asean leaders. (PNA) RMA/PCOO/rsm

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