Philippines lauds Kerry over statement in South China Sea row

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

MANILA -- The government of the Philippines on Tuesday welcomed the statement of United States (US) Secretary of State John Kerry supporting the adherence to international legal principles in solving the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In a brief statement, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez said they welcome the statement of the US official since it is also the long-standing position of the Philippines.

"The Philippines welcome the reported comments of Secretary Kerry made recently in Jakarta on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea," said Hernandez.

"These comments are fully in line with the basic Philippine and Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) stance that we should move expeditiously to conclude a binding Code of Conduct in order to reinforce regional peace, security, and stability," he further said.

Hernandez's statement comes a day after Kerry stated that the stability of the Asia-Pacific region largely depends on establishing a binding code of conduct that will help countries peacefully address conflicting claims in the South China Sea.

Kerry said a Code of Conduct is needed as soon as possible since failure to have one makes the region prone to tensions and conflicts.

The Philippines' and Kerry's similar positions comes amid the increasing presence of China in the South China Sea, the latest of which is by promulgating a law requiring foreign fishing boats to ask permission first from them before conducting any activities in their territory.

Back in January 2013, the Philippine government had initiated an arbitration proceeding against China against its claim of "indisputable sovereignty" in the South China Sea, including those being claimed by other countries.

The arbitration case pushed through despite the strong opposition of the Chinese government.

To note, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei all have partial claims in the territory, which is being claimed in whole by China. (Sunnex)

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