PH, Indonesia urge China to settle row peacefully

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 24 2014 01:27 AM | Updated as of May 24 2014 07:34 PM

Yudhoyono: Maritime accord with PH a model for resolving border disputes

MANILA (UPDATED) - After joining Vietnam in condemning China's incursions, the Philippines now has a conciliatory tone and joined Indonesia on Friday in calling for a peaceful resolution of disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

This as the Philippines and Indonesia signed 3 agreements on Friday, one of which is an agreement delimiting the conflicting exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of the Philippines and Indonesia in the Mindanao, Celebes, and Philippine Seas that are shared by the 2 countries.

The agreement was one of those signed as Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife, Ani Bambang Yudhoyono, went to Malacanang for a state visit.

In their joint statement, Yudhoyono, speaking in his mother tongue, hailed the EEZ agreement as an example of any border dispute being resolved peacefully without the use of military might.

“This indeed is a model, a good example that any dispute, including maritime border tension, can be resolved peacefully," he said.

Yudhoyono said the use of military might "interferes and endangers stability and peace" in the Asia-Pacific and other parts of the world.

"The situation in Asia... is filled with tension. The position of ASEAN is clear, the position of Indonesia is clear: that any of the tension must be resolved peacefully without the use of military force. We must return to the spirit that we have on the Declaration of Conduct [on the South China Sea] to becoming [the] Code of Conduct, which we can refer to international law."

Yudhoyono also congratulated the Philippines for signing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro aimed at bringing peace to Mindanao.

"That indeed is an important key milestone in history, [showing] that any conflict can be resolved peacefully," he said.

President Benigno Aquino described the EEZ agreement with Indonesia as a milestone agreement founded on international law, and said it serves as solid proof to Philippine commitment to the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of maritime concerns.

The agreement includes the annexed charts showing the EEZ boundary of the Philippines and Indonesia in the Mindanao Sea and Celebes Sea in southern Philippines and in the Philippine Sea on the southern section of the Pacific Ocean.

It is the result of 20 years of negotiations to delimit the overlapping EEZs of the two countries.

The agreement was reached on the basis of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the state practice and decisions of international tribunals on maritime boundary delimitation.

It is also the result of rules-based negotiations to peacefully resolve maritime issues between two archipelagic states.

It is the first maritime boundary treaty of the Philippines.

The EEZ boundary line defines the limits of the sea space in the southern Philippines, thereby giving Filipino fishermen and other stakeholders a clear extent of the area where they can exercise the sovereign rights over the waters as provided for by national laws and treaties, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

The agreement also aims to also enhance the efforts of government agencies to enforce Philippine fishing, maritime, and security laws.

The Philippines has filed a case against China over the disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea at an arbitration tribunal in The Hague.

A regional neighbor, Vietnam, saw riots that torched Chinese factories in the country after Beijing built an oil rig in the disputed waters.

In a speech at the World Economic Forum on East Asia on Thursday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung warned that maritime disputes in the region threaten the global economy.

"Disputes over sovereignty and territory in the East China Sea and East Sea or the South China Sea have been evolving with complexity and seriously threatening peace and security in the region," he said.

"At present, over three-fourths of global goods are shipped via maritime transportation, of which two-thirds travel via the East Sea, and a risk of conflict will disrupt these huge flows of goods and have a foreseeable impact on regional and world economies. It might even reverse the trend at global economic recovery," he added.