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11/09/2013: Philippines Seeks International Support for Rules-Based Approach to Resolve West Philippine Sea Dispute

11 September 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Philippines has again called on the international community to help bring about an enduring peace in the Asia Pacific by expressing their support for the rules-based approach Manila has been advocating to resolve the overlapping claims in the West Philippine Sea.

“To support the Philippines in the path we have chosen to peacefully settle the [West Philippine Sea] dispute is to support a rules-based international order, where disputes are settled not through force or might but through an objective and just application of international law,” Ambassador Cuisia told the Ambassador’s Forum of the International Institute for Strategic Studies here.

Ambassador Cuisia made his remarks a few weeks after the Philippines was told to formally present its case before the five-member Arbitral Tribunal at The Hague that was convened at Manila’s request to resolve issues related to China’s claim over the West Philippine Sea.

“At the end of the day, the case we have lodged before the Arbitral Tribunal will be a building block towards the strategic landscape of the future,” the Filipino diplomat said. “A victory for the rule of law will guarantee a rules-based regional landscape, where all nations can grow and prosper together.”

“We are counting on the international community to support not just the Philippines, but the primacy of the rule of law,” Ambassador Cuisia said. “In expressing this support, you would have contributed significantly to shaping an enduring peace for the Asia Pacific region.”

In his remarks, Ambassador Cuisia pointed to the increase in belligerent activity in areas in and around the West Philippine Sea during the past two years as well as the lack of positive response to Manila’s efforts to keep the lines of communication open and engage in bilateral and multilateral discussions since 1995.

“This creeping assertion violates the Philippines’ territorial sovereignty and sovereign rights. It is our duty to pursue the national interest and defend the Philippine territory and maritime domain,” he said.

While some would like to characterize the issue as a purely territorial dispute that should be resolved directly by the parties concerned, Ambassador Cuisia said the maritime row has far reaching implications to the international community, in terms of respect for the freedom of navigation and commerce and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

“We believe all countries whether directly affected or not, have an interest and a stake in protecting these fundamental tenets of international law,” he said.

Ambassador Cuisia, at the same time, expressed his appreciation to the statements of support from other nations, particularly the United States, which also believe that the pursuit of dispute settlement mechanism under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea should not preclude negotiations on a binding Code of Conduct.

“Through these various mechanisms, our vision is clear: to contribute to creating a rules based framework that will provide a just, peaceful and enduring solution to the disputes in the South China Sea,” he said. ###