Manalo to fly to Cambodia for ASEAN foreign ministers meetings

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 28 2022 09:06 PM

Foreign Affairs Secretary  ABS-CBN News/File
Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo will attend the upcoming Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) and related meetings in Cambodia next week, officials said Thursday.

Manalo is expected to assert the arbitral award on the South China Sea and the country's position against the executions in Myanmar.

The AMM and related meetings will be held on Aug. 2-6.

“Secretary Manalo is expected to assert the 1982 UNCLOS and the arbitral award as the anchors of our actions and our policies in the South China Sea," DFA Asst. Sec. Daniel Espiritu said.

Talks are ongoing on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, the DFA said, adding that right now negotiations are on the general provisions and that there is already progress in the objectives. 

“Hopefully in the next few months, we’ll be going through the mechanics of the code of conduct,” said Espiritu, who is from the ASEAN Affairs office of the DFA.

DFA spokesperson Teresita Daza weighed in on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s first State of the Nation Address (SONA), saying that his pronouncements on foreign policy is consistent with the Constitution.

“This is consistent with the Constitution too. I think that addresses the concern about the arbitral tribunal as well as territorial integrity," Daza said.

Marcos reiterated in his SONA last Monday that he will not abandon a square inch of the Philippine territory, and that the country will continue to be a friend to all and enemy to none.

The Philippines is locked in a maritime dispute with China, with the latter aggressively asserting its claims in the South China Sea despite a 2016 landmark ruling invalidating its basis.

Aside from the Philippines and China, the following also have claims in the South China Sea: Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Espiritu said the Philippines is also expected to denounce the execution of opposition figures in Myanmar.

“Aside from the position of ASEAN of expressing being extremely troubled and saddened by the execution of the four activists of Myanmar, the Philippines denounces that execution. We also find it reprehensible and we think that it was done in an inopportune moment especially because we are days away from the (ASEAN foreign ministers meeting)," he said.

The DFA earlier expressed support to the statement of the ASEAN Chairman on the execution of the activists, noting that the Philippines participated in its drafting and joined in the consensus.

Bilateral meetings between Manalo and his counterparts from other countries are being arranged, DFA officials said.

Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam comprise the ASEAN.

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