AFP chief pushes Code of Conduct in SCS
“The Philippines supports the conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which will be an important and lasting legacy of the ASEAN and China in ensuring peace, security and stability in the area,” he said in a speech at the 17th ASEAN Chiefs of Defense Forces Meeting (ACDFM) on Thursday.
STAR/ File
AFP chief pushes Code of Conduct in SCS
Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - September 26, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay has called on his fellow military and defense officials in Southeast Asia to pursue the development of a code of conduct with China in the South China Sea.

“The Philippines supports the conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which will be an important and lasting legacy of the ASEAN and China in ensuring peace, security and stability in the area,” he said in a speech at the 17th ASEAN Chiefs of Defense Forces Meeting (ACDFM) on Thursday.

Gapay underscored the country’s commitment to support the development of such code, stressing the importance of maintaining mutual trust and confidence in the region, and to pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law.

“I am confident that we will achieve a strengthened security relationship towards a cohesive and responsive ASEAN. After all, we have a shared commitment and mutual responsibility in dealing with common regional security challenges and in preserving the region’s stability,” he said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had repeatedly assured the public that despite the challenges, the Philippine military would continue to patrol and safeguard the West Philippine Sea.

President Duterte, in a speech before the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, invoked the 2016 arbitral ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration favoring the Philippines and vowed to reject efforts to undermine the decision that voided China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea.

Former foreign affairs chief Albert del Rosario meanwhile urged Duterte to get the support of other countries to pressure China to comply with the 2016 ruling of The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration that nullified Beijing’s sweeping claim to almost the entire South China Sea.

“Please, Mr. President, get the support of other countries to pressure China to comply with the arbitral ruling,” Del Rosario said in a statement.

Earlier, France, the United Kingdom and Germany filed a joint note verbale before the United Nations, challenging China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea, which is believed to hold large reserves of oil and natural gas.

In his speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 22, Duterte vowed to reject efforts to undermine the historic arbitral ruling.

Duterte said the ruling is already part of international law and could no longer be abandoned by governments.

The 2016 decision said China’s maritime claim, which covers about 90 percent of the South China Sea, has no legal basis. It also affirmed the Philippines’ sovereign rights over its 200-mile exclusive economic zone or EEZ, specifically over Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and Recto (Reed) Bank.

The ruling also declared Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales as a common fishing ground, and stated that Chinese moves to drive away Filipino fishermen from the shoal violated Philippine rights.

China has rejected the ruling, calling it “illegal since day one.”

Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian maintained yesterday that China does not recognize the 2016 arbitral ruling invoked by Duterte before the UN.

“China’s position on the so-called arbitral ruling has been very clear: we do not accept and we do not recognize this so-called ruling,” Huang told a forum organized by the Association for the Philippines-China Understanding Inc.

“It has been agreed by our two presidents that we should close the old chapter and shelve differences. At the same time, we should work together to pursue cooperation and dialogue in our bilateral relations,” he said. 

AFP
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