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Philippines wants enhanced rules in West Philippine Sea

THE Philippines is looking for a more specific content of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea (DOC) by the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).

In his speech at the Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting Monday, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario called on his regional counterparts to join in pushing for a more comprehensive Code of Conduct (COC) being created by the Asean Working Group.

“The Philippines hopes that the Code of Conduct will be a real ‘move forward’ not merely in terms of form, but more importantly in substance,” del Rosario told his colleagues in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

He said the Philippines believe that the COC must include guidelines by which stakeholder-states are to conduct themselves in the West Philippine Sea; as well as the setting of mechanisms on dispute settlement including the appropriate structure for its effective implementation.

Also being pushed by the country is the clarification and segregation of disputed from non-disputed areas in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos); and the crafting of provisions relating to cooperative activities, as may be appropriate, for the disputed areas.

“We believe that a rules-based approach under the dispute settlement mechanism established in UNCLOS is the legitimate solution in addressing conflicting and overlapping claims in the West Philippine Sea,” added del Rosario.

Aside from the Philippines, the West Philippine Sea, particularly the Spratly Islands, is being disputed by fellow Asean members Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam, as well as China and Taiwan.

The DFA chief also opined that it would be best if such a compact guideline would be set first by the region before involving other parties.

“It is important for Asean to first agree among themselves on the draft text of the COC before meeting with China,” said del Rosario.

SunStar.Com.Ph | April 2, 2012 | Article Link

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