MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said The Philippine government will continue to protect the country's sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction peacefully.
In his remarks before the Fellows Meeting of the Foundation for Economic Freedom at the Manila Golf and Country on March 6, Manalo said the Philippines upholds and protects its entitlements under the UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award “through diplomacy, law enforcement, public diplomacy action and through various security and military arrangements.”
"The Philippines has been clear and consistent about its serious concern over recent developments in the South China Sea, especially infringements on our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction. Despite commitments to the rule of law as espoused by UNCLOS and in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, parties continue to violate the recognized maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines,” Manalo said, according to a copy of his speech provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“We, therefore, uphold and protect our entitlements under the UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award through diplomacy, law enforcement, public diplomacy action and through various security and military arrangements.”
Manalo cited the “considerable number” of diplomatic protests filed against other states over actions that threaten or infringe upon the Philippines’ sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea.
“Our protests cover incidents on illegal presence of foreign fishing and maritime militia vessels, illegal fishing, harassment of our fishermen and enforcement agencies,” he said.
Manalo echoed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s pronouncement that the Philippines will continue to uphold our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction through peaceful and legal means.
“In his meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, which was the President’s first foreign visit this year, the President repeatedly expressed the Philippines’ desire for the South China Sea to be a sea of peace, stability, and security,” he said.
“He urged China to abide by UNCLOS, which is the constitution of the seas as well as the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties. The President also signified our keen interest in the early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
“The Philippines and China recognize that the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea China issue is not the sum total of our relations and that our economic and people-to-people ties play a very critical role in our pursuit of economic development as well as a peaceful and stable region.”
Meanwhile, Manalo justified the full implementation of Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) as a “key pillar” of the Philippine-US alliance “that supports combined training, exercises, and interoperability between our forces.”
“The full implementation of the EDCA will make our alliance more resilient and will accelerate modernization of our joint military capabilities. The EDCA is intended to supplement the MDT and the VFA, especially in developing the Philippines’ and the United States’ individual and collective capacities in addressing security threats,” he said.
“The EDCA facilitates this through the identification of 'agreed locations' in the Philippines that would host facilities and structures to where both Philippines and US forces will have access for the conduct of joint activities, such as training, exercises, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR).”
Manalo said that aside from the Philippines’ “important ties” with China and the United States, Manila's independent foreign policy also “prospers on a web of partnerships that reflect the rich, substantive and multifaceted interests that the Philippines shares with other countries in the region and the world,” citing partnerships with other countries as well as ASEAN.