Malacanang push Rule of Law in West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)


The Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that the Philippines pressed for adherence to the rule of law in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and rejected efforts to broaden disputes in areas in the region during the 21st Meeting of States Parties to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (SPLOS 21) held from June 13 to 17 at the UN.
The Philippines stressed, “The rule of law is the bedrock of peace, order and fairness in modern societies. The rise of a rules-based international system has been the great equalizer in global affairs. Respect and adherence to international law have preserved peace and resolved conflicts. International law has given equal voice to nations regardless of political, economic or military stature, banishing the unlawful use of sheer force.”
In a statement delivered by Commission on Maritime and Ocean Affairs Secretariat (CMOAS) Secretary General Henry Bensurto, he noted that “recent developments in the Recto bank have tended to broaden the concept of disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea to include even those waters and continental shelves that are clearly within the sovereignty and/or jurisdiction of the Philippines.”
“The Philippines firmly rejects any efforts in this regard. Such actions are inconsistent with UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Secretary General Bensurto stressed during his statement.
Underlining the Philippines’ commitment to international law and the rule of law, specifically UNCLOS, which is considered the world’s constitution on oceans, he said that “We expect nothing less from our international partners.”
Underscoring the primacy of international law, particularly the UNCLOS, CMOAS Secretary General Bensurto stated, “In situations where disputes on maritime claims exist, UNCLOS provides clues as well as answers by which such maritime disputes could be addressed.”
The CMOAS Secretary General also urged all parties to the ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct in the South China Sea to faithfully abide by the Declaration provisions, including paragraph 5, which mandates parties to “exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.”
“The Declaration of Conduct expresses in a concrete way our collective goal for rules-based action by all concerned parties,” he added.
During the meeting, the need for maintaining peace and security in the West Philippine Sea and the primacy of the UNCLOS was also echoed by Viet Nam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, and Singapore in their respective national statements.
These nations also called for the peaceful resolution of disputes as enshrined in the UNCLOS