Malacañang on Sunday welcomed passage by the US Senate of Resolution 412, which pushes the peaceful settlement of disputes hounding the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“The US Senate called for the peaceful settlement of disputes pertaining to claims by different countries, including the Philippines, over certain islands in the West Philippine Sea,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a radio interview.
Coloma added that the US Senate resolution noted that “the Republic of the Philippines properly exercised its rights to peaceful settlement mechanisms with the filing of arbitration case under Article 287 and Article VII of the Convention on the Law of the Sea in order to achieve a peaceful and durable solution to the disputes.”
“This resolution affirms the long-standing strategic partnership between the Philippines and the United States that is highlighted by the recent signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement [EDCA],” he said.
“It is also supportive of stepped-up efforts among Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] member-countries to flesh out a Code of Conduct that will govern maritime entitlements in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea, as well as the Philippines’ recourse to the United Nations’ arbitral tribunal,” Coloma added.
The resolution, passed last week, reaffirmed “the strong support of the United States government for the freedom of navigation and other internationally lawful uses of sea and air space in the Asia-Pacific region, and for the peaceful diplomatic resolution of outstanding territorial and maritime claims and disputes.”
The resolution also provided that the US Senate “condemns coercive and threatening actions or the use of force to impede freedom of operations in international airspace by military or civilian aircraft, to alter the status quo or to destabilize the Asia-Pacific region.”
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, rejecting rival claims of its neighbors the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. Beijing also has a separate maritime dispute with Japan over islands in the East Sea.
Early this year, the Philippines filed a memorial against China before an international tribunal to settle the sea dispute. Beijing refused to participate in the proceedings.
The Hague-based tribunal gave China until December 15, 2014 to send its counter-argument.
Coloma reiterated the Philippine government’s commitment to pursue all legal options to counter China’s aggressive stance and to work “toward the peaceful resolution of disputes and the promotion of long-term stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”