AN official of the Department of National Defense told a recent Japan-Asean Vice-Ministerial Meeting that the Philippines needs the support of the international community as Beijing remained recalcitrant in not recognizing and abiding by an international tribunal ruling against its sweeping claims to the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
At the same meeting, Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David called on China to comply with the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration fundamentally declaring China’s 9-dash line as having no basis in international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or Unclos.
Convening for the 8th time and this time in Sendai, the meeting focused on the current state of regional security and efforts to address common security challenges and examined areas of defense cooperation between the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations or Asean and Japan.
David had been requested to share the Philippine perspective on the current regional security situation.
His talk focused on developments in the South China Sea where he also updated the meeting with the most current state of Chinese-built islands in the South China Sea.
Interestingly, according to David, the bulk of the discussions during the meeting centered on issues related to the South China Sea to include maritime domain awareness, efforts under Unclos to resolve and address the issue as well as major power activities in the area.
Among the identified areas of cooperation between Asean and Japan include maritime security, landmines and peacekeeping operations, international law, cyber-security and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Others who attended the meeting were Assistant Secretary Raymund Quilop; Commodore Danilo Rodellas, currently the commander of the Naval Forces West; and Col. Noel Plaza, the Philippines’ defense attache to Japan.
Even as Beijing continued to deny that it is poised to carry out fresh activities at the disputed South China Sea, Director Arsenio Andolong of the Public Affairs Service of the Department of National Defense earlier said he believed that the presence of Chinese ships in the contested waterways is a precursor to possible building of new structures.
“We believe that this is precursor to possible building of structures on the shoal, which is why we are gravely concerned about this development especially given that it is well within, the shoal is well within our exclusive economic [zone],” he added, apparently referring to Scarborough Shoal.
“And we would like to point out that the ambassador of China denied this only a week ago, if you noticed that the photos were taken on September 3 so that makes it even more disturbing,” Andolong said.
The Defense department has been receiving information about the presence of several Chinese vessels in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) the sightings of which were confirmed by continuous patrolling and monitoring, according to the Defense spokesman.