Aquino: China violates code of conduct in disputed sea

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Monday, May 19, 2014

MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III accused China on Monday of violating the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) because of its ongoing construction of alleged airstrip in the disputed Mabini Reef (Johnson Reef).

Aquino said there is a part in the DOC signed in 2002 that prohibits any party from doing any action at the disputed area.

"The Parties undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner," he said, quoting the DOC.

"So sa aking pananaw, 'yung ginawa sa Mischief Reef noong araw, 'yung ginagawa ngayon, lahat ito parang seemingly in violation noong pinagkasunduan na Declaration of Conduct (So in my view, all they did in Mischief Reef violate the Declaration of Conduct)," the President said.

He admitted though that the DOC was not binding.

"Para maging operational at saka enforceable, kailangan natin ‘yung Code of Conduct (COC) kaya noong 2012 sa Cambodia, inulit natin na kailangan nating paspasin ‘yung paggawa nitong Code of Conduct para matigil nga itong alitan at saka ‘yung potensyal na magkaroon ng paghahasik ng kaguluhan," he explained.

But up to now, there is still no COC between claimant countries, which are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China.

Claimant countries from Asean include the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Philippines filed a diplomatic protest against China's construction of structure at Mabini Reef, which Manila is also claiming. However, Beijing rejected the protest as it insisted that the area was part of its territory under nine-dash line. (SDR/Sunnex)

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