Malacañang is urging nations to exercise restraint after China recently passed a law giving power to its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels and demolish structures built in the South China Sea (SCS), also known as the West Philippine Sea.
In a press briefing on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque called on nations, particularly claimants to the contested sea, not to escalate tensions as it could worsen the ongoing maritime dispute.
“I hope countries would not to anything in relation to the West Philippine Sea issue which could make the situation worse,” he said in Filipino.
He reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to pass the Code of Conduct for the SCS.
“The declaration of the President is to finish a code of conduct and that all claimants of the West Philippine Sea follow this code of conduct,” he added in Filipino.
In 2019, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China completed the first reading of the draft of the Code of Conduct that was announced at the Asean Ministerial Meeting in Singapore a year earlier.
The Code of Conduct is expected to be finalized by 2021 to resolve conflicts in the resource-rich waters of the SCS.Meanwhile, Roque pointed out that all laws passed to safeguard a nation’s sovereignty will have to comply with their obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). SOVEREIGNPH