June 25, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

PH, Viet Nam ink MOU on incident prevention, management on South China Sea

THE Philippines and Viet Nam have signed a memorandum of understanding on “Incident and Management in the South China Sea,” President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. announced on Tuesday.

“I hope that we can seriously implement this agreement as quickly as we can,” President Marcos said in his speech during a meeting with Viet Nam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in Hanoi.

President Marcos acknowledged Viet Nam’s interest in pursuing a “Joint Submission on the Extended Continental Shelf” before the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).

He said the Philippines is willing to work with Vietnam for a joint submission “at the appropriate time.”

For his part, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh expressed hope that countries claiming the South China Sea in whole or in part “should work on an effective and substantive COC [Code of Conduct] and make meaningful contributions to an effective and substantive” efforts that are compliant with international laws, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

President Marcos met with the Prime Minister as part of his state visit to Viet Nam where he also discussed the maritime claims of China in the South China Sea and the Philippine government’s stance on regional and international issues.

The President said that the Philippines’ position on the South China Sea remains consistent, clear and firm that is anchored in the 1982 UNCLOS.

“We are firm in defending our sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction against any provocations. But at the same time, we are also seeking to address these issues with China through peaceful dialogue and consultations as two equal sovereign states,” President Marcos said.

The chief executive recalled his state visit to China in 2023 where he reaffirmed with Chinese President Xi Jinping that maritime issues should not constitute the relations between the Philippines and China, and that the two countries should work to enhance comprehensive strategic cooperation.

However, China appears to continue its illegal activities in the South China Sea, according to President Marcos.

The President cited the December 9 and 10 incidents last year where Chinese Coast Guard and Chinese militia used water cannons and in the process damaged Philippine vessels in the Bajo de Masinloc and Ayungin Shoal, respectively.

President Marcos said President Xi, during their meeting on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in November last year, agreed on the importance of de-escalating tensions in the South China Sea.

“We are committed to work in partnership with other like-minded states to ensure a rules-based international order in the Asia-Pacific region governed by international law. Our support for ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific as the foremost regional framework and as the architecture for collective peace, stability and prosperity remains steadfast,” President Marcos said.

“As maritime nations, we share a similar assessment of the current state of our regional environment with other maritime nations of the Asia-Pacific. Our countries have crucial roles to play in shaping the regional security discourse and in upholding the rules-based international order,” he added.

President Marcos also raised the country’s stand on regional and international issues including independent foreign policy.

He said the Philippines considers both the United States and China as key actors in maintaining peace and security, economic growth and development in the ASEAN region as he emphasized the US is only the Philippines’ treaty ally.

“And as such, we continue to pursue military cooperation with the US to strengthen our defensive capability and our ability to respond to humanitarian crises and disasters,” Marcos said.

The President also expressed concern over tensions across the Taiwan Strait as it may affect northern territories of the Philippines, compromising the safety and wellbeing of Filipinos in Taiwan. He also emphasized that the Philippines wishes for the return to peace and stability in Myanmar.

President Marcos also expressed support for the Five-Point Consensus and the efforts of Lao PDR as the new Chair of ASEAN as he took note of Thailand’s proposal during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat on providing humanitarian assistance to Myanmar.

The chief executive also expressed concern on the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza as he reiterated the country’s support in all of the efforts of the UN to deliver urgent aid to Palestinian civilians caught in the conflict.

“We are also concerned with the escalating violence in the region, especially in Lebanon and in the Red Sea/Yemen where at the moment we have 17 Filipino hostages who were taken to Yemen once they were serving on a ship that was traversing the Red Sea,” President Marcos said.

He added that the Philippines is ready to work with other countries in resolving conflict in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions and general principles of international law.

“On candidatures, the Philippines wishes to thank Viet Nam for its confirmed support for the Philippines’ bid to the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member for the term 2027 to 2028, with a confirmed arrangement of reciprocal support with Vietnam–for Vietnam’s UNSC for the term 2020 to 2021,” he added.

Before concluding his speech, President Marcos reiterated the Philippines will strongly consider Viet Nam’s upcoming candidatures for seats in international organizations