MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Jejomar Binay Thursday said adherence to international laws will provide a stable and objective standard to achieve an effective solution to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute.
Binay made this declaration at the opening of the two-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Maritime Legal Experts’ Meeting in Pasay City where maritime legal experts will discuss the Philippine proposal for a Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation (ZoPFF/C) in the West Philippine Sea.
In his speech, the Vice President highlighted the importance of a rules-based regime in the West Philippine Sea, and how the ASEAN “will again send a strong message to the world that it has become a community wherein the rule of law and adherence to international law is sacrosanct.”
“The Philippines is therefore pushing for a rules-based approach in the West Philippines. We believe that rules provide an effective tool for peaceful and fair resolution in the presence of disputes. A rules-based approach is the key to advancing the peaceful settlement of disputes for all countries concerned in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
The 44th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) in Bali for the ASEAN Senior Officials agreed to bring in maritime experts to study the zone of peace proposal.
The maritime experts meeting seeks to establish a common understanding among ASEAN member states on the ZoPFF/C proposal.
Its findings will be reported to the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (ASEAN SOM), which will then make recommendations for the ASEAN Foreign Ministers to consider before the 19th ASEAN Summit in November 2011 in Bali.
ASEAN members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The ZOPFF/C provides a framework for segregating the disputed territorial features which may be considered for collaborative activities from the non-disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea in accordance with international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The proposal was raised by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario last June amid China’s aggressive diplomatic assault and the increasing presence and activities of Chinese vessels including naval assets in the West Philippine Sea.
“We sincerely believe that our ASEAN brothers are one with us in the view that there should be a primacy of international law in state to state relations,” Vice President Binay said. “We have no doubt that ASEAN is firmly one with us in the belief that adherence to international law will provide a stable and objective standard by which an efficient solution in the West Philippine Sea could be achieved.”
Senior Philippine diplomat Henry S. Bensurto Jr., secretary general of the Commission on Maritime and Ocean Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), heads the Philippine delegation to the ASEAN maritime experts meet.
Heads of delegation to the ASEAN meeting also include: Marcus Song Ee Pin, deputy senior state counsel, Attorney General Chambers (Singapore); Paisan Rupanichkij, director for ASEAN Division of the Department of ASEAN Affairs (Thailand); Nguyen Manh Dong, deputy director general, department of International Law and Treaties of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Vietnam); Arnyfariza Jaini, second secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Brunei); Ratchmat Budiman, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Indonesia); Zulkifli Adnan, director general of Maritime Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Malaysia); Deputy director Ei Ei Tin of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Myanmar) and Roth Phally, first secretary of Royal Embassy of Cambodia.
- ASEAN News: ASEAN to meet in Philippines for “Legal Framework” on Pacific Waters “Zone of Peace, Freedom & Cooperation” (thaiintelligentnews.wordpress.com)