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Philippines banking on united Asean
Publication Date : 01-04-2014
Being a good neighbor pays. In the case of the Philippines, having established solid relationships with neighbouring countries would mean that help would not be hard to find.
“There is still the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations),” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said Tuesday when asked what would be the government’s next move if its case at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos) against China fails.
He said the Philippines could continue engaging fellow Asean members both bilaterally and unilaterally.
“There must be an Asean-centric approach considering there are overlapping…(exclusive) economic zones in the claims of the various member countries,” he added.
Coloma said the government was only following a “policy of peaceful and diplomatic engagement.”
On the other hand, he declined to comment on China’s refusal to undergo arbitration under the Itlos.
“China is entitled to pursue its own foreign policy in a way that it deems best. It is not for me to comment on it. It’s just for us to assert our own national interest and respond appropriately,” he said.
The Philippine government on Sunday filed a 4,000-page legal memorandum detailing its claims on the West Philippine Sea.
Like other Asean countries, the Philippines is facing maritime disputes with China. However, China again rejected the move.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said they would neither accept nor participate in the international arbitration initiated by the Philippines, claiming that China already declared in 2006 that it be excluded from arbitration, pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Laws Of the Sea (Unclos).