By Joann Santiago
MANILA, May 22 (PNA) — A Malacanang official on Friday said the Philippines stance on the South China Sea issue remains even with the heightened tension following the reported incident between Chinese and US personnel last Wednesday.
”Habang kinikilala natin na mayroong tensyon, pursigido pa rin tayo at determinado pa rin tayong isulong ‘yung ating posisyon sa pamamagitan ng pagtalima sa international law (While we acknowledge the tension, we remain persistent and determined on our position to follow international law),” Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.
Coloma stressed that the country’s position on the importance of the implementation of freedom of navigation, freedom of aviation and international law remain.
Reports said the Chinese navy issued eight warnings to the pilots of US’ most advanced surveillance aircraft, P8-A Poseidon, while the latter was flying over Fiery Cross reef, an artificial island that China is constructing at the disputed waters.
The US government vowed to continue its air and space patrols in the said area citing that the area is an international airspace.
Coloma said they continue to verify the reports and stressed that they hope that the tension will not escalate further.
”Gayunpaman, nagiging matingkad ang reyalidad ng pagkakaroon ng tensyon bunsod ng isinasagawang reclamation activities, at ng patuloy na paggamit ng teoryang ‘nine-dash line’ sa kabila ng malinaw na isinasaad sa United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” he said.
He said the Philippines will continue to follow UNCLOS rules in line with its commitment to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).
He said the Philippines will also continue to communicate with its colleagues in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the establishment of a legally binding Code of Conduct.
Relatively, Coloma said this issue might be discussed during the State Visit of President Benigno Aquino III in Japan from June 2-5, 2015 because the issue is timely and affects the region.
“At sa lahat din ng mga forum ng ASEAN at APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) —‘yung sa APEC kasama rin ang Japan diyan—ay natutukoy din naman ito, kaya hindi natin maisasantabi ‘yung posibilidad na tatalakayin din nila ito sa kanilang pag-uusap,” he added. (PNA)