PH hopes China won't stir up sea row

Posted at 06/03/14 3:22 PM

MANILA - Amid a growing number of global allies calling for the rule of law in the South China Sea, Malacanang hopes China will not do anything to destabilize the already volatile situation in the disputed area.

"We still would like to envision a situation where there will be continuing stability in the South China Sea, as we have pointed out its strategic importance not just to regional, but to global commerce and trade. And we have also emphasized that the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea does not define the totality of our relations with China, and other countries in the region also view it that way, and this is the condition that we see for further stability and economic growth in our region," Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said.

Malacanang is encouraged by the increasing number of allies in its posture in relation to China over disputes in the South China Sea or West Philippine sea.

This is after Australia joined the United States and Japan in calling for respect for the rule of law and freedom of navigation and aviation.

"We are encouraged by the supportive statements of our allies and other countries on the importance of seeking peaceful settlement of disputes, which is precisely the course of action we have chosen to adopt," Coloma said.

The Philippines has been advocating a multilateral approach to dispute resolution.

It has filed an arbitration case against China over its activities in the Mabini Reef, Ayungin Shoal, Scarborough Shoal and Kalayaan Group of Islands.

The Philippines also wants a binding code of conduct for claimants.

Coloma said fleshing out the code would institutionalize peace and stability in the region.

The Palace noted that in the 13th Asia Security Summit held over the weekend in Singapore, the participants affirmed the importance of respecting the rule of law as the key to regional stability.

Coloma said 40 percent of world commerce passes through the South China Sea; hence, it is important that freedom of navigation, as well as freedom of aviation be upheld as emphasized in the ASEAN-Japan Summit last December 2013.

"At ang palagiang sinasabi ng Pangulo, lahat naman ng bansa sa ating rehiyon--including China--would like to seek continuing economic growth, at 'yung economic growth pwede lamang matamo 'yan kung merong estabilidad sa ating rehiyon. At 'yung sinabi nga niya, ano, halos kalahati ng buong quantity of world trade or commerce passes through the South China Sea. Kaya hindi pwedeng maging maligalig 'yung area na 'yan, not just for the interest of the countries that have specific territorial entitlements or claims, but for the benefit of the entire economy of the region and of the world."