From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 12): A year after The Hague ruling: PHL opts to solve WPS dispute amicably
The government on Wednesday reaffirmed its commitment to protect the country’s territorial claims and maritime entitlements, but opted to resolve the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (WPS)/South China Sea amicably.
“(The Duterte administration) believes that the ongoing territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea should further be resolved in a manner consistent with the spirit of good neighborly relations,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement on the first year anniversary of the arbitral tribunal award.
On July 12 last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China’s “nine-dash line” entitlement over the entire West Philippine Sea because it overlapped with the Philippine 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The DFA stressed President Rodrigo Duterte's priority of regional peace and stability has led to the healthy environment of dialogue, cooperation and development.
“The bold initiatives of the Administration in pursuing an independent foreign policy have become a game changer not only in the geo-political landscape in the region but more importantly in the lives of our people,” it said.
The DFA cited considerable economic gains of adopting positive neighborly relations, with Filipino fishermen are now back exercising their livelihood in Scarborough Shoal.
“We have received investment and financial assistance commitments upwards of USD 30 billion from our partners in the region. These significant developments have likewise allowed our defense resources to also address other pressing security concerns facing the country,” it added.
Further, the DFA said such approach has strengthened Philippine status as ASEAN Chair and “regional peacemaker.”
It added the country is further encouraged by the agreement on a framework on the code of conduct on the South China Sea that “will help us move towards negotiating an effective Code of Conduct.”
ASEAN members and China completed the framework on the code of conduct for managing the dispute in the South China Sea on May 19 in Guiyang, Guizhou Province in Southwest China.
The completed COC framework was expected to be submitted to the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and China during their meeting in Manila in August for their consideration
DFA Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano also reiterated the administration is committed to its strategy to strengthen old allies and engage new partner nations.
“The Philippines shall remain an enemy to none and a friend to all in its pursuit of economic and political benefits for the country, including the long-term security and stability in the region,” he said.