Del Rosario at EU: 'Peaceful' efforts to end sea row 'unsuccessful'
Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - July 10, 2013 - 3:24pm

MANILA, Philippines - Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Tuesday reported to officials of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium that the Philippines' "peaceful" approach to settle disputes with China have failed.

"The Philippines undertook many efforts to peacefully engage China and settle these disputes. However, these were unsuccessful," Del Rosario said, explaining the overlapping disputes at sea with China as the major claimant.

Del Rosario said in a roundtable discussion that the country has "exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues" in peacefully negotiating a settlement with China, which he said has "projected an overwhelming naval and maritime presence far beyond its mainland shores."

"Our last resort, therefore, when confronted with increasing incursions into our territory, was to utilize the legal track which also covered the management of disputes," Del Rosario said.

He emphasized that the country seeks a "rules-based" resolution on the conflict through third-party arbitration and the crafting of the Code of Conduct with its Southeast Asian neighbors.

"The five-member panel of the arbitration tribunal has already been completed ... I have no doubt that they will look at the merits of the case on the basis of law," Del Rosario said.

The diplomatic official also took time in convincing the European dignitaries of the importance of the South China Sea in European trade, saying that the shipping lanes must remain free of military perils.

"Ensuring the unfettered access of ships and maritime commerce through the region is ... of interest not only to Asia and Europe, but to the international community as well," Del Rosario said.

According to a statement by the Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, European Parliament members have expressed their support for the country's approaches to the sea row, particularly its respect for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS in the meeting with Del Rosario.

Del Rosario is in Belgium and Luxembourg for a three-day diplomatic visit when he also met Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Asselborn seeking to renew the two countries' bilateral ties.

ASIA AND EUROPE BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG CODE OF CONDUCT DEL DEL ROSARIO DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT EUROPEAN UNION FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECRETARY ALBERT ROSARIO
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