Negotiations between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China are still underway for the crafting of a final and binding Code of Conduct in the SCS, which aims to promote peace and stability in the highly-contested waters.
ASEAN and China, nevertheless, remain committed to the full implementation of the non-binding Declaration on the Code (DOC) of Parties in the SCS signed on 04 November 2002.
The DOC aims to exercise self-restraint and promote non-militarization within the SCS.
MANILA — Citing the importance of the country’s historic arbitral victory against China’s sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea (SCS), President Rodrigo Duterte said he believes that Permanent Court of Arbitration’s (PCA) 2016 ruling on the SCS disputes, as well as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), provides a “clear path towards a just, fair, and win-win solution for all.”
“The award must be seen for what it is—a benefit across the board to all who subscribe to the majesty of law,” Duterte pointed out in his keynote speech that emphasized his commitment to keep the SCS “a sea of peace, security, and prosperity.”
He added no country can undermine the sea ruling that favors the Philippines because “no amount of willful disregard by any country, however big and powerful, can diminish the arbitral award’s importance.”
On 12 July 2016, the PCA in The Hague, Netherlands ruled in favor of the Philippines after it invalidated China’s supposedly historic rights over nearly the entire SCS under what Beijing claimed as the nine dash line, which has been used by China to show the maximum extent of its claim without indicating how the dashes would be joined if it was continuous and how that would affect the extent of the area they claimed.
China has repeatedly ignored the 2016 PCA ruling while the Philippines has sought to resolve the sea disputes through peaceful and diplomatic negotiations, as it intends to keep its mended ties with Beijing.
In his latest speech, Duterte reiterated his stance to avoid provocative acts that could only trigger hostilities among claimants.
“We must resolve disputes peacefully, as we manifested in the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes,” he said.
He was referring to the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes approved by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1982, which provides for the obligation of all states to settle their international disputes by peaceful means. (TRC/Headline PH)