Gov’t displays real progress in talks on disputed sea issues—Gatchalian
The beginning of formal talks between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the West Philippine Sea is a “watershed moment for regional security,” Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said on Wednesday.
Gatchalian issued the statement a day after the conclusion of the Philippines’ hosting of the 31st Asean Summit on Tuesday, which resulted in various outputs including the start of discussions on the COC.
Prior the Asean Summit, Chinese and Southeast Asian foreign ministers adopted a framework for a COC in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea in August this year.
“This is the first time in 15 years that Asean and China have made any real progress toward settling the long-standing disputes in the West Philippine and South China seas,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
“This is a pivotal step toward inking a comprehensive agreement which will permanently defuse tensions in the disputed areas by creating a lasting framework for the equitable navigation and use of these crucial waters,” he added.
Philippines, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, and Vietnam all claim most, if not all, parts of the disputed sea.
The senator also lauded the adoption of the Asean Consensus on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers, a document which he “hopes will make a meaningful impact on the welfare of migrant workers scattered throughout the region.”
“Overseas Filipino Workers are considered modern-day Filipino heroes, and rightfully so. They sacrifice so much to provide better lives for their families here at home. I am proud that the Philippines was able to steer Asean toward an agreement which will further promote and defend the rights of our OFW heroes, no matter where they are stationed within the region,” he said. /jpv
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