Philippines to discuss Spratlys dispute in Bali meeting of Asean
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario will discuss with Philippine allies the thorny Spratlys dispute at the five-day 44th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia, beginning Tuesday.
Del Rosario will also assert the Philippine policy “grounded on an unwavering adherence to international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” according to Raul Hernandez, the spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
In a statement, the DFA said Del Rosario “will advance the country’s interests in the key areas of political-security cooperation, trafficking in persons, human rights, food security, disaster management, migrant workers’ concerns, and other issues of mutual interest with Asean partner-countries.”
Malacañang on Monday welcomed a resolution in the US House of Representatives supporting the Philippines’ multilateral approach to the Spratlys’ dispute.
“However … whatever persuasive value it may or it may not have on China to alter their position is something that we cannot judge,” Palace deputy presidential spokesperson Abigal Valte told reporters.
President Aquino on Friday said that he would press China to submit to arbitration before the United Nations during his visit to Beijing later this year. China earlier rejected the proposal and said the issue was between Manila and Beijing.
Andi Widjajanto, an Indonesian security and defense expert, has criticized Asean for its failure to tackle sensitive security issues.
At a security conference of the Network of Asean Defense Institutions in Jakarta, Widjajanto said, Asean’s main concern centered on “very soft issues like transnational crimes, piracy, peacekeeping operations, disaster relief, but it never touched hard core security issues.
In Dagupan City, former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. said countries claiming the Spratly Islands should “shelve the issue of sovereignty.”
He said the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei should instead “conduct joint drilling for oil and gas under equitable profit sharing.”
He said this was the second step in the joint seismic monitoring agreement between the Philippines, China and Vietnam which he helped pursue in 2005 and 2006.
He said the deal should be renewed, “perhaps with variations that would lead to drilling for oil and gas.” With reports from Jerry E. Esplanada and Norman Bordadora, in Manila; Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Jeffrey M. Tupas, Inquirer Mindanao
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