MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Philippines is ready to engage with other claimant states in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday, with the hope that the arbitration ruling will help resolve the territorial dispute.
“The Philippines is ready to engage all relevant stakeholders, especially the claimant states. We are confident that the award will help in finding ways forward to resolve the disputes,” DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr. said in his remarks, as delivered by Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo at the second Manila Conference on the South China Sea.
Yasay was referring to the July 12 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which ruled in favor of the Philippines, as it invalidated China’s so-called nine-dash line, its basis for claiming almost the entire South China Sea.
“And at the same time, we are guided and bound by the Philippine Constitution that mandates us to pursue an independent foreign policy with the paramount consideration for national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination,” Yasay said.
Manalo said Yasay was unable to attend the event held at the Manila Hotel due to an urgent matter.
Yasay also stressed the need to resolve the sea dispute in a “climate of trust and confidence,” which, he said, “shall only be built if all parties adhere to a set of rules and principles accepted by the international community.”
Aside from Philippines and China, other countries who have overlapping claims in parts of the South China Sea are Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Manila refers to the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea.
Yasay reiterated that PCA’s ruling was “binding” and “provides a good basis for a rules-based approach of resolving disputes” in the South China Sea.
China has refused to recognize the PCA ruling. (MNS)