11 April 2013, Bander Seri Begawan, Brunei - Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario today said that the Philippines has resorted to the rule of law by initiating arbitral proceedings under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to clarify the country's maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea.
Speaking at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Bnader Seri Begawan, Secretary Del Rosario stressed that the Philippines' recourse to arbitration is firmly rooted in the tradition of good global citizenship.
"The Philippines shall always adhere to the peaceful settlement of disputes through lawful, non-coercive, and transparent means that promote the healthy functioning of an equitable and rules-based international system," the Secretary said.
Secretary Del Rosario emphasized that the Philippine arbitral initiative, when objectively considered, will benefit all parties.
"For the Philippines, it will clearly define what is legitimately ours, specifically maritime entitlements under UNCLOS with regards to our fishing rights, rights to resources and rights to enforce laws within our Exclusive Economic Zone,"the Secretary explained.
He added that for China, an arbitral award will finally clarify for the Chinese people its lawful maritime entitlements in the South China Sea under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. This will enable China to provide responsible leadership towards fostering stability in the region.
"For ASEAN and the rest of the global community, the clarification of maritime entitlements under UNCLOS would assure peace, stability and freedom of navigation in the region," the Secretary said.
Secretary Del Rosario also reiterated that the Philippines' desire to have a legally-binding code of the conduct in the South China Sea (COC) has not changed.
"We will continue to work with ASEAN and China in crafting the COC and in implementing our commitments under the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC)," the Secretary said.
Secretary Del Rosario also urged ASEAN to focus on slolidarity in taking a stronger position on violations of the DOC. END