Blinken calls on countries to ‘play by the rules’ in West Philippine Sea

Blinken calls on countries to âplay by the rulesâ in West Philippine Sea
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he boards his plane at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila on August 6, 2022.
Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — When it comes to maritime disputes, particularly on the West Philippine Sea, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington hopes that all countries would “play by the rules” to ensure stability. 

“From our perspective, it’s very important to uphold the law, uphold the rules, uphold the norms countries agree to together because even if it’s something we’re not directly in,” Blinken told the ABS-CBN’s News Channel. 

“If we allow these things to erode, if international law is violated with impunity then everything risks eroding and falling apart.” 

He emphasized that the global community has been following the international rules-based order, which is influenced by the United Nations Charter and international law.

Blinken mentioned that ensuring that the Philippines is able to secure its maritime domain is important to the US as “allies, friends, and partners.” 

The disputed waters has been the source of tensions between China and the Philippines. While a 2016 arbitration ruling already states that Manila has a stake in the disputed waters, China refuses to recognize the award and has harassed Filipino vessels treading the waters.

The Philippines has so far filed 152 diplomatic protests against China this year, putting the total number of protests against its neighboring country to 412 since 2016. 

The US previously said that commitments under its Mutual Defense Treaty with Manila will be activated if external forces attack on any Philippine ships or any of its armed forces. Blinken reaffirmed the US’ “iron-clad commitment” to the security pact during his quick stop to Manila over the weekend.

Under the treaty, Manalo said that the two countries may launch joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea. 

Asked about the possibility of conducting joint patrols in the waters, Washington’s top diplomat said “there are lots of things that we can do together beyond what we’ve done in the past." He said the two countries can collaborate more beyond the security domain to other areas such as addressing climate change and health. — Kaycee Valmonte



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