Philippines encouraged by international support vs sea row with China

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

THE Philippines is emboldened by the supportive statements of the country's allies on the importance of seeking a peaceful settlement to the disputes in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) amid China's bullying, a Palace official said Tuesday.

"We note that in the 13th Asia Security Summit, held over the weekend in Singapore, the participants affirmed the importance of respecting the rule of law as the key to regional stability," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a regular press briefing.

During the summit, the Philippines' key allies--the United States, Australia, and Japan—expressed similar views that support the country's basic position on the importance of a peaceful settlement of the South China Sea issue.

"We are encouraged by the supportive statements of our allies and other countries on the importance of seeking peaceful settlement of disputes, which is precisely the course of action we have chosen to adopt," Coloma said.

The Philippines has filed an arbitration case before an international tribunal regarding its claim over some area in West Philippine Sea and against China's nine-dash line, a theory wherein it claims almost the entire South China Sea.

Coloma noted that as President Benigno Aquino III has pointed out in recent interviews with the international press, 40 percent of world commerce passes through the South China Sea, making freedom of navigation an important issue.

Freedom of aviation must likewise be upheld, as emphasized in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)-Japan Summit last December 2013, he added.

During last month’s Asean Summit in Myanmar, he said, the heads of states and governments affirmed the importance of fleshing out a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea to ensure regional stability.

The Palace official also emphasized the importance of Asean centrality, saying that together with other neighboring countries, the Philippines will continue to advocate the crafting of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

"We see this as an important opportunity for institutionalizing peace and stability in the region arising from the disputes in the South China Sea," he said.

And since the President started to pursue such advocacy in Cambodia two years ago, it has gained traction, he added.

"We have seen important progress made in our advocacy and we continue to be encouraged by all of these developments," he said. (SDR/Sunnex)

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