DFA, ASEAN experts to tackle Spratlys

by Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 30 2011 01:04 AM | Updated as of Jul 31 2011 02:22 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A team of maritime legal experts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is scheduled to meet in Manila in September to begin talks on maritime territorial issues, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.

This is part of the preventive diplomacy approach wherein ASEAN experts will determine disputed from non-disputed waters, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said.

"The experts will give a concept paper to determine the zone of peace and cooperation and let them discuss it, assess and hopefully support it. We will present it to the ASEAN and hopefully China will hear it," he added.

Hernandez believes that China will listen and respect whatever the experts will come up with but stressed that the Philippines has a rightful claim over disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea.

"We are just pushing what we think is our national interest. The Recto Bank is really ours and we will defend it at all cost," he said.