• ‘PH to explore peaceful solution to sea disputes’

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    THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Sunday said the Philippines will explore all available mechanisms to discuss matters pertaining to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) before bringing the issue to the United Nations.

    DFA spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said the Philippines will pursue peaceful resolution of the dispute thus the country should give diplomacy a chance.

    “We have said that we should explore all avenues to peacefully resolve the issue,” Bolivar said in a television interview.

    Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio urged the government to file another case against China after President Rodrigo Duterte disclosed last week that China threatened to declare war on the Philippines if the country will insist on claiming islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

    “Again we have to take the conversation into context. The President was saying that we have the sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea and the conversation I believe is an affirmation of the complex nature of the situation,” Bolivar said

    He added that the matter should be allowed to run its course considering that all parties also want a peaceful management and resolution of the dispute. He cited the reaffirmation between Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping that the issue was complex and calls for a peaceful resolution of the disputes.

    “There are many claimants. There are areas where claimants are more than China and the Philippines. There is also Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei so all of these claimant-states must work peacefully to resolve this issue,” he added.

    Bolivar said there has been positive momentum in the last few days including the finalization of the draft framework of the Code of Conduct and the start of the Philippines-China bilateral consultation meeting.

    “We now have several mechanisms in place including the bilateral mechanism and the Asean-China process. We can discuss issues of concern pertaining to WSP during these mechanisms so we should fully explore the possibilities which are open to us for these mechanisms first,” he added.

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