Malacanang hopes China agrees on ASEAN consensus for settling claims in West Philippine Sea

July 11, 2012 9:29 pm 

MANILA, July 11 — Malacanang hopes that the People's Republic of China agrees on a recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) consensus that the United Nations maritime convention must be the basis for settling competing claims in the West Philippine Sea.

ASEAN foreign ministers, meeting in Cambodia this week agreed on a draft document for a peaceful settlement in the disputed territory.

“In the first instance, China has also been of the position that it should be settled peacefully. Everybody agreed on that. We hope that they will be receptive to the idea as well,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said during the regular press briefing on Wednesday in Malacanang.

“Let’s see kung sa November ita-target na mailabas yan. Hopefully, it will be received well,” Valte said referring to the November release of the draft.

Valte reiterated that the country’s position is to push for an ASEAN centrality and that the code has to be made before other parties are asked to join the Code of Conduct.

Asked if the Palace believes that a Code of Conduct would bolster the Philippines’s position on the West Philippine Sea, Valte said: “We have been firm that ‘yung claim natin doon is supported under international law and that we intend to pursue our claim under a rules-based approach.”

The draft document outlining the regional block’s position called on all sides to resolve territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea through peaceful means, in accordance with the international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS.

UNCLOS is an international treaty that sets limits on how neighboring nations consider their exclusive economic zones. China is a signatory to UNCLOS.

During the ASEAN Summit last April, the Philippines said the ASEAN must first agree among its members on the draft of the Code of Conduct of Parties in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) before meeting China. The West Philippine Sea issue should be resolved peacefully in accordance with the international law, it said.

Taiwan and ASEAN members, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia all have claims on the West Philippine Sea. The disputed territory is home to vital shipping lanes and believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits. (PNA)

FPV/PCOO/ssc

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