Amidst the ongoing dispute between various countries over the resource-rich Spratly Islands, the Philippines and Vietnam have joined forces to advocate adherence to international laws in resolving the issue.
President Benigno Aquino III and Vietnamese president Truong Tan Sang, in a bilateral meeting in Malacañang, signed the memoranda of understanding to establish a hotline between the two countries’ coast guards, to allow the citizens of both countries to share pertinent information.
“We also exchanged information and views on issues relating to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and reaffirmed the importance of the maintenance of peace, stability, maritime safety and security in the region,” said Aquino in a press statement.
Sang, who arrived in the country Wednesday for a three-day state visit, supported Aquino’s call to Southeast Asian countries to form a united front in resolving conflicts over the disputed island.
“We again affirm the importance of the maintenance of peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation in the East Sea (Vietnam’s name for South China Sea) to the region as well as to the parties concerned,” he said.
“We agreed that a rules-based approach, adhering to international law… is essential to the pursuit of a peaceful resolution of these issues through multilateral dialogue and consultations,” said Aquino.
The two leaders said that the issue should be settled through peaceful means with respect to international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international legislation ratified in 1982 which provides an exclusive zone of 320 kilometers from a country’s nautical shelf.
The Philippines and Vietnam, along with China, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan, have overlapping claims over the Spratly Islands.
Both Aquino and Sang also called for the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which was signed in 2002 by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The declaration is the organization’s answer to the call for a peaceful environment in the West Philippine Sea among ASEAN members and China.
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- Aquino, Aussie Foreign Minister tackle Spratlys (Inquirer) (thuytinhvo.wordpress.com)
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