Philippines-United States alliance no intention to heighten tensions with China


Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. del Rosario stressed the Philippines-United States alliance “does not aim to confront or contain anyone” and that “the last thing [that] the Philippines wants to do is to heighten tensions [in the West Philippine Sea] and drag our allies into it.”
He also asked “why is China vehemently against the idea of validating its claims in accordance with international law,” even as he urged China to join the Philippines in the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
The ITLOS would provide an impartial venue for ascertaining who between the Philippines and China have sovereign rights over the waters around Bajo de Masinloc, and also in the Reed Bank area.
Secretary del Rosario made these statements during his speech on May 2 at the Heritage Foundation about the common challenges and new developments in the Philippines-U.S. alliance.
He added, “[W]hat the Philippines is trying to do is to build a rules-based environment and create the conditions that will shape the behaviour of all parties towards the peaceful resolution of disputes.”
Secretary del Rosario said that the WPS issue has far-reaching implications to the international community, in terms of respect for the freedom of navigation and commerce, and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
He added, “The Philippines has taken the lead and put on the table concrete and actionable proposals, and we are encouraging others to join us. We believe all countries whether directly affected or not, have an interest and a stake in protecting these fundamental tenets of international law.”
Secretary del Rosario also said, “diplomatically, through the process of bilateral consultations (with China), we continue to discuss how the situation in Bajo de Masinloc can be defused.”
Addressing those who say that considering the complexities of a dispute such as the WPS, the issue can only be managed, but not resolved, Secretary del Rosario emphasized that “managing and resolving the dispute are not mutually exclusive concepts, and should be pursued in parallel.”
“We need to make clear investments—in the political and legal track—towards resolving the conflicting claims, and these modalities are direct investments towards a peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific,” Secretary del Rosario stressed.