Marcos Jr: South China Sea must not be nexus for armed conflict

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 11 2023 06:18 PM

Philippine Coast Guard handout
Philippine Coast Guard handout

MANILA - President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Thursday reiterated his call for concerned parties to abide by international law on issues regarding the South China Sea, saying leaders must "ensure it does not become a nexus for armed conflict." 
During the 42nd ASEAN Summit Retreat Session in Indonesia, Marcos stressed anew the importance of the conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the disputed waters, voicing out "serious concerns" on recent developments there. 

Marcos cited the incursions in the West Philippine Sea, the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea that Beijing claims in near entirety. 

"These incidents have palpable consequences for the safety and welfare of our people, particularly our fisherfolk and coastal communities," the president said. 

“We must avoid the ascendance of might and the aggressive revision of the international order. In an increasingly volatile world, we require constraints on power contained by the force of the rule of law,” he added. 

These incidents though will not affect the country's stance on rules-based order, saying the Philippines "will remain firm in upholding and protecting our entitlements under UNCLOS."

He said the country is committed to following the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and the early conclusion of the talks for the COC.

On Tuesday, Marcos told reporters that the Philippines and China have agreed to identify specific locations in the South China Sea that Filipino fishermen can freely access. 

“I have already spoken with the [Chinese] ambassador and iyon na nga, willing na kami will just map it out, that’s what we have to do,” he said.

No deadline has been set for this, he added. 

Aside from the Philippines, other ASEAN member states such as Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia also have overlapping claims over the South China Sea, as well as Taiwan.

On July 12, 2016, a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal invalidated China's 9-dash line claim in the disputed waters, in favor of a Philippine plea.


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