Lorenzana on South China Sea issue: Don’t ‘exacerbate’ already tense situation

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 13 2021 02:26 AM

MANILA—Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said "rules-based" order must prevail among all sides that have a stake in the South China Sea dispute. 

In a statement coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the award on the South China Sea arbitration, Lorenzana added that no one should make the already "tense situation in the area" worse. 

"Today, we join the Filipino people in celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Arbitral Award," he said.

"It is a milestone in our country’s history as it affirms our claim over the West Philippine Sea. The award is final and executory. 

"We also welcome the support of other nations who consider the award as having the force of international law. We likewise appreciate their serious concerns over excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea." 

"On this anniversary, we once again urge all interested parties to heed the call for a rules-based international order and refrain from acts that may exacerbate the tense situation in the area," he added.

Lorenzana said the Department of National Defense will continue to seek all avenues to achieve a "peaceful and friendly management" of all maritime disputes involving the Philippines.

"The Award provided not only the Philippines but the rest of the world with a framework for greater cooperation and understanding of complex maritime conflicts," he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said the Duterte administration has done everything it can in the maritime row against China.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that Beijing had no historic title over the South China Sea. It also said China had interfered with traditional Philippine fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal and breached the Philippines' sovereign rights by exploring for oil and gas near the Reed Bank.

China, which lays claim to most of the waters within a so-called 9-Dash Line, which is also contested by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam, reiterated on Friday that Beijing did not accept the ruling.

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