Aquino pushing for Code of Conduct

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China’s massive reclamation activities in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) show  the need for a Code of Conduct (COC) in the resource-rich waters, President Benigno Aquino 3rd said on Thursday.

In an interview with reporters at his home province of Tarlac,

Tarlac, Aquino disclosed that  he will push for adoption of the COC when he attends the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Malaysia later this month.

“Of course, when we go to Malaysia for the Asean meeting, we will repeat our call for a Code of Conduct. The efforts to have that started in 2002, and have not succeeded,” he said in Filipino.


At present, according to the President,  Asean has a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) with China, but, he said, it is not enough.

“Even that DOC, in my view, is being violated now, making it imperative to push the adoption of a Code of Conduct,” Aquino added.

The President expressed hope that “formal talks in formulating such a Code of Conduct start soon.”

China and the Philippines, aside from Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam are claimants to disputed territories in the South China Sea.

The contested  areas are believed to contain substantial undersea oil reserves.

The Philippines has sought international arbitration before a Netherlands-based tribunal to nullify China’s massive claims over a vast area of the South China Sea.

Beijing uses the so-called “nine-dash line” to claim ownership of almost the entire South China Sea, while the Philippines uses the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or Unclos as basis for its claim.

It earlier rejected international arbitration proceedings to settle its territorial dispute with the Philippines, insisting instead on bilateral talks to settle the matter.

Meanwhile, the  President welcomed statements of support being received by the Philippines from the international community, including a recent statement from G7 foreign ministers opposing China’s reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

“Everybody, even the claimants [to those]territorial, well, features in the South China Sea, [all of them are saying],  ‘Let’s have a peaceful resolution based on international law,’” Aquino said.

He added, “We keep asserting that the problem in the South China Sea is not just a regional problem. It is a global problem because no less than 40 percent of world commerce [have]to pass through these waters.”

Aquino declined, on one hand, to provide “specifics of what we would need” from countries like the United States, which recently signaled it would increase presence in the area as part of its military pivot.

President Barack Obama last week told Beijing to stop elbowing out other countries, mentioning Vietnam and the Philippines by name–the two countries most active in opposing China’s reportedly aggressive measures to assert its presence.

Aquino explained that going into details about what Manila will seek from the US would be “practically telling the other side exactly all of our preparations. I don’t think that’s prudent.”

Before the reclamations, he noted, Beijing had advised countries like the Philippines it was enforcing a fishing ban, and that “[it seems now that we have to seek permission from China to fish in our exclusive economic zone].”

Thus, Aquino said,  statements of concern and warning by other countries, especially those from outside the region, are  significant as they indicate that the conflict is a problem of everyone.

“So that what will prevail is goodwill, as we all have committed to keep within peaceful means, we all promised to be in conformity with international law. I hope we all fulfill these,” he added.

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3 Comments

  1. If we kept the American bases this stuff will never happened because American will guard our Philippines territories. Thank you to our Philippines politician instead of watching our territories they just watch the money they can steal from Filipino people.

  2. I have a strong feeling that our crisis with China over the South China Seas would not have happened if we had a leader who is like Lee Kuan Yew. LHY would know how to make China toe the line and he would be respected for his stand.

    But sad to say we only have a fake president whom everyone knows (even in the international community) to be an asperger syndrome sufferer and a confirmed looney. So who will mind someone like that? All he knows now is to call other nations to help us because we can’t help ourselves under his non-leadership.

    • I respectfully disagree. PH and Singapore are two distinct countries. Singapore is a small country and can be easily controlled. Lee Kuan Yew has established a state that is predominantly Chinese albeit allowed three other ethnic groups to become citizens, Malaysians, Indians and Indonesians. Singaporean has strong ties with China being predominantly Chinese. Singapore has billions of dollars investments in China mainly in Jiangsu, Fujian and Guangdong provinces where most of their citizens come from. PH has totally different culture and ethnic groups that can not be easily controlled unless we have a dictator or a strong military and government establishments. President Aquino so far has done the right thing to present our case to the United Nation. Our case is being supported by US, our allies in Asia Pacific and now G-7. Our next step is more important and PH and its allies should seek economic sanction of China the same the European has done to Russia for invading Ukraine. PH can’t alone fight China but it can seek assistance from allies to pressure China from giving up its ambition which seems headed to the wrong direction. China should learn from the mistake of Germany and Japan for invading other countries. We all hope that the Chinese people should stop their leaders from this grievous mistake.

      REPLY: Correct! But the third ethnic group you shuld have mentioned is not Indonesians but Expatriates. In Singapore’s multi-racial, multi-cultural culture the value of the expatriates — British, Europeans from various countries, Turks and people of the ancient Christian faiths– are given importance and respect.