Palace: Talks on SCS code of conduct to go on despite new China Coast Guard law
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has expressed confidence that talks on the proposed South China Sea code of conduct (COC) will continue despite China’s new law allowing its coast guard to fire at foreign vessels in Chinese-claimed reefs.
This comes after retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio said China has rendered the South China Sea COC “dead on arrival” when it passed its Coast Guard law.
“As to whether or not the code of conduct is dead, I don’t think so,” said presidential spokesman Harry Roque during Monday’s press briefing when sought for the Palace’s reaction on Carpio’s opinion.
“Dahil ‘yan naman ay patuloy na tinatanggap at pinag-uusapan ng mga bansa na mayroong kanya-kanyang claim dyan sa West Philippine Sea,” he added.
(Because that is continuously being discussed by countries with claims over the West Philippine Sea.)
Carpio also said earlier China’s new Coast Guard law is proof of Beijing’s “bad faith” in discussions with Southeast Asian nations to finalize the South China Sea COC.
China’s new Coast Guard law authorizes the Chinese Coast Guard to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.”
China and countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei that have conflicting territorial claims over the South China Sea have been negotiating for a COC in the vast body of water.
The South China Sea COC will be an accord that is seen to prevent the escalation of tension in the disputed waters.
Carpio had suggested that the Philippines and other Southeast Asian like Vietnam and Malaysia should run to a United Nations tribunal to declare China’s Coast Guard law as void.
But Roque said the country should wait and see how China will implement the law to determine whether it violates a nation’s rights.
“Alam ni Justice Carpio na when you assail the validity of a law, kinakailangan, there has to be someone na proper party, na ‘yung kanyang karapatan ay nalabag,” he said.
(Justice Carpio knows that when you assail the validity of a law, there has to be a proper party who would claim that his rights have been violated.)
“Wala pa namang gano’n. Antayin natin, tingnan natin kung paano mapapatupad ‘yan pero sa ngayon nag-file na tayo diplomatic protest and we leave it at that,” Roque added.
(So far, there’s none. Let’s wait and see how this law will be implemented but we have already filed a diplomatic protest and we leave it at that.)
Bringing the new China law to a United National tribunal will also depend on the decision of the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs as well as the ministry of foreign affairs in other countries, according to Roque.
“Kinakailangan we need to show that the enforcement of the law will in fact violate the rights of an individual and we need to show that there is an actual case of controversy,” Roque said.
The Philippines earlier filed a diplomatic protest against China’s new Coast Guard law, recognizing that it is a “verbal threat of war to any country that defies the law.”
China has been pushing for its expansive claims in the South China Sea, refusing to recognize the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidated its ambitious nine-dash line that covers virtually the entire body of water.
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