Allow joint patrols, military exercises in WPS, Marcos urged
MANILA, Philippines — Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to allow “joint patrols and military exercises” in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as a way of enforcing the country’s landmark victory in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) tribunal.
Del Rosario, former chief diplomat and ambassador to the United States, was heartened by Mr. Marcos’ remarks at last week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, that the West Philippine Sea dispute keeps him “awake at night, in the day and most of the time.”
“We have no conflicting claims with China. What we have is China is making claims on our territory and that is … how we approach the problem that we find,” Mr. Marcos had told Børge Brende, president of WEF, in a one-on-one forum.
The President was correct in stating that the country has no conflicting claims with China in terms of our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, said Del Rosario, “given that the Unclos award already settled that the West Philippine Sea exclusively belongs to Filipinos.”
Del Rosario was the foreign secretary during the administration of the late President Benigno Aquino III, when the country won the landmark July 12, 2016, arbitral award under the Unclos, which invalidated China’s claims over nearly all of the South China Sea and recognized the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the area referred to as the West Philippine Sea.
“We understand that the South China Sea dispute may be a complex and dynamic set of issues, politically, economically and diplomatically,” Del Rosario said in a statement on Monday.
“However, there is one anchor that will bring much clarity to this dispute, and that is the rule of law” embodied in the 2016 arbitral award won by the Philippines under the Unclos, he stressed.
“Nonetheless, China is persisting in its illegal claim in our waters, like a thief who has already been ordered by a court to return the stolen property to the owner. Thus, the action to be undertaken at this point is the enforcement of the Unclos award,” urged Del Rosario.
He suggested that among the ways to enforce the Unclos award are consistently raising the award at the United Nations General Assembly and other international fora and “engaging in joint patrols and military exercises in our waters and further consolidating the support of countries, which believe in the Unclos award and the rule of law.
Del Rosario did not mention which countries.
The Philippines has a mutual defense treaty with the United States, which stated that it would come to the aid of the Philippines in case of an attack in the West Philippine Sea.
Del Rosario also urged the Marcos administration to “make China accountable for the environmental crimes it committed in the West Philippine Sea” and to “build a minimum credible defense posture to protect our national territory.”
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