MANILA- With the ASEAN chairmanship of the Philippines this year comes the pressure of insisting the tribunal ruling on the South China Sea as a basis for a code of conduct in the disputed waters, an analyst said Friday.
Political analyst Richard Heydarian said it is clear that many people in President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, as well as the public, want the ruling to be implemented.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines last year for maritime entitlements in the disputed waters, a decision that was rejected by China.
“I think you also have domestic pressure building up on this administration to at least put a show, to at least make an effort,” he said.
Earlier this month, ASEAN began talks on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
Issues that were raised included militarization of occupied parts of the disputed waters, and restraint in activities in the area particularly those of China.
Heydarian added that even if the Philippines does not get the ruling “explicitly” as the basis for the code of conduct in the disputed waters, the Duterte administration should still insist on the ruling to get even a “compromised” code of conduct that benefits the country’s position better.
“It has to be a landmark achievement so I believe the pressure is definitely there. And if we don’t do that then that means that the ASEAN has completely lost its relevance and so-called centrality,” he said.
He added that he thinks other member-countries also want the Philippines to insist on the arbitration ruling because it could serve as a basis for the framework on how to properly resolve disputes in the South China Sea.
“Framework is very important because in the framework that’s where you are going to identify: what is you reference point to come up with a code of conduct?” he said.