Philippines

DFA: Joint communique on South China Sea reflects ASEAN sentiment

MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday said the joint communiqué that called for non-militarization and self-restraint in South China Sea (SCS) activities reflects the sentiment of majority members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)..

Cayetano issued this statement even as the Philippines initially did not want to include land reclamation and militarization activities in the document.

“I didn’t want to include it. It’s not reflective of the present position. They (China) are not reclaiming land anymore. So why will you put it again this year?,” he said in a press briefing here at the end of the 50th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Related Meetings.

Cayetano said the joint communiqué is a “negotiated document” agreed by all member states.

“It does not matter what we put, what we don’t put at the zero draft because what matters reflect what the majority wants…The strength and weakness of the ASEAN is the centrality meaning, we decide on consensus. It has to be 10-0,” he said.

ASEAN members and China on Sunday approved the framework for a code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea and targeted to start the negotiations on the actual code by the end of the year.

The DFA chief also agreed with China’s proposal to have “generally stable and no major disruption from outside parties” before they could announce the official start of the COC consultation during the ASEAN leaders meeting in November.

“I look it at more as a prerequisite and it is a logical prerequisite for me. What’s why, if you look at our statement, it is directed to all states that we shouldn’t do anything in the area unilaterally and shouldn’t do anything that will make us regret and lose trust and lead to conflict,” he added. (PNA)

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