Monday, February 22, 2016

Palace reiterates country's positionregarding South China Sea dispute

Malacañang has maintained that while the Philippines is not party to the recent issue of China's deployment of missile batteries in the Paracel Islands, every claimant must respect the rule of law and must push for a rules-based approach in resolving the dispute in the South China Sea.

When asked to confirm reports on China's installation of surface-to-air missiles, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said that previous reports have confirmed that the missiles were deployed in Woody Island in Paracel Islands, an area not covered by any of the country's maritime entitlement claims.

“According to DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) Spokesperson Charles Jose, ang pangyayaring ito ay sa Woody Island na bahagi ng Paracels na hindi naman covered ng any of our maritime entitlement claims,” Secretary Coloma said, noting that the country’s claims pertain to the Spratlys.

He however noted that the essence of the present issue is the observance of previously agreed rules, such as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002, which calls on claimants not to raise tension in the region.

This issue, he said, was also tackled during the recent special ASEAN-US Summit in California, which was attended by President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Coloma said that during the special ASEAN-US Summit, President Aquino called on other claimants, especially China, to respect whatever ruling the tribunal will issue.

This will give meaning to the concept of rules-based settlement of disputes among nations, he said.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea and recently built islands and other permanent structures in disputed territories.

The area is a major sea lane for trade and is believed to contain vast amounts of natural resources, including natural gas. (PCOO News Release)

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