Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has tackled the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue during the 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (Retreat) this afternoon, August 4 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He also updated his ASEAN counterparts on the arbitration case filed by Philippines against China’s West Philippine Sea claim.
Secretary Del Rosario said China “has taken actions that have threatened freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight and raised the risk of miscalculations if not conflict. The Philippines has been directly affected by harassment of fishing vessels, destructive fishing activities, unilateral fishing ban, and audio challenges against aircraft flying over the South China Sea.”
“The final outcome of the arbitration under Annex VII of the UNCLOS will contribute to the peaceful and long-term resolution of overlapping maritime jurisdictions in the South China Sea,” he added.
Del Rosario also urged his fellow ASEAN minister’s to conclude the legally binding Code of Conduct. “The COC should be our priority now if it is still to be relevant, practical and usable in the context of what is happening on the ground.”
He also discussed issues on Irregular Migration/Trafficking in Persons/Migrant Worker; Terrorism; and Regional Security Architecture and External Relations.
In conclusion, he said “all our efforts at regional community-building aim to promote and protect the future well-being of our people. This can only be done in a peaceful, secure and stable environment.”
ASEAN foreign ministers will be having several meetings with their counterparts in Asia and other regions, including United States and China, this week.