MANILA – President R. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called on his counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to come together through the regional bloc’s “centrality and universal multilateralism” against the “unilateral and assertive activities” in the South China Sea.
“We must not allow tensions in the South China Sea to further escalate,” he said in his intervention during the 18th East Asia Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Presidential Communications Office said the event was also participated in by, among others, Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol, US Vice President Kamala Harris.
The event is part of the 43rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, set from Sept. 5 to 7, 2023.
Marcos said the Philippine government is “concerned over consistent actions that are in violation of obligations under international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), and under the DOC (Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea).”
“In this spirit and in accordance with the DOC, we continue to urge all parties to exercise self-restraint and refrain from unilateral and assertive activities that would increase tensions in the region, misunderstandings, and miscalculations in the South China Sea,” he said.
The President also stood pat on the government’s position against “the dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels” as well as the illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and militarization of reclaimed features of the South China Sea that is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
“The Philippines remains resolute towards the peaceful resolution of disputes. We continue to support freedom of navigation and overflight and the rules-based international order in the South China Sea,” he said.
Meanwhile, Marcos cited India’s help to call for peace and stability in the South China Sea.
“Allow me also to begin by thanking India for supporting ASEAN during the last Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Meeting where India stood in solidarity with ASEAN, especially on our call to factually update paragraphs on the South China Sea in the NAM Ministerial Outcome Document,” he said during the 20th ASEAN-India Summit attended by Indian PM Modi, among others.
Citing India’s contribution towards promoting the rule of law in the region, Marcos said “we both envision a progressive Indo-Pacific that encompasses maritime cooperation to ensure sustainable use of maritime resources – particularly in tackling illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, promoting the blue economy, and mitigating maritime pollution, among others.”
Marcos also cited the immediate implementation of the action lines of the Plan of Action (POA) 2021-25 due to the efforts of both the ASEAN and India.
“In view of this development, we anticipate the finalization of its Annex while the Philippines is readying the negotiations for the Plan of Action’s successor document. As the next country coordinator for ASEAN-India relations, we stand ready to shepherd this document,” he said.
The President said the Philippines, as the next country coordinator of the ASEAN-India relations intends to have a productive partnership with India and the materialization of concrete programs that will benefit both regions.
“We also welcome initiatives and projects under the ASEAN-India Joint Statement on Cooperation on the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific for Peace, Stability, and Prosperity in the Region,” he added. (PNA)