June 17, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Solid commitment of US, Japan in upholding PH sovereignty, interest in WPS — Romualdez

SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez today said President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. scored a strategic victory for the country after securing the solid commitment of the United States and Japan in upholding our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Romualdez cited the Joint Vision Statement that US President Joe Biden, Japan Prime Minister, and President Marcos, Jr. released following their historic trilateral meeting in Washington D.C. Thursday, expressing opposition against aggressive conduct of China’s Coast Guard and fishing militia vessels in the West Philippine Sea. 

The three leaders also stressed that according to the final and legally binding July 12, 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling the Second Thomas Shoal (Ayungin Shoal) lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, and called on China to abide by the ruling.

“President Marcos, Jr.’s steadfast leadership and diplomatic initiatives significantly advanced our country’s national interests, especially in upholding our sovereignty and safeguarding our territorial integrity, particularly in the West Philippine Sea,” said Speaker Romualdez, leader of the 300-plus strong House of Representatives. 

“The commitment of the United States and Japan to support the Philippines in defending its sovereignty and promoting regional peace is a testament to the strength of bilateral and multilateral partnerships in addressing complex security challenges,” he added.

In his opening statement at the historic trilateral meeting, President Biden reiterated that “any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels, or Armed Forces in the South China Sea would invoke our Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).”

Speaker Romualdez expressed hopes the historic trilateral meeting would serve to de-escalate the simmering tensions in the West Philippine Sea for the mutual benefit of all the stakeholders. 

Romualdez stressed that President Marcos, Jr. enjoys the full support of the House of Representatives for his efforts to protect our nation’s interests in the West Philippine Sea and in promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.  

“The House of Representatives stands firmly behind President Marcos, Jr. and his diplomatic initiatives to uphold rules-based international order as the foundation of regional peace and prosperity,” Romualdez said.

The Joint Vision statement reiterated three leaders’ “serious concern” over China’s “repeated obstruction of Philippine vessels’ exercise of high seas freedom of navigation and the disruption of supply lines to Second Thomas Shoal, which constitute dangerous and destabilizing conduct.”

Similarly, the statement expressed strong opposition to any attempts by China to unilaterally change the status quo by force or coercion in the East China Sea, including through actions that seek to undermine Japan’s longstanding and peaceful administration of the Senkaku Islands.

The three leaders also called for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as an indispensable element of global security and prosperity.

It could be recalled that President Marcos, Jr. had expressed concerns over the adverse effects to the country of any confrontation that may ignite over Taiwan. 

“It is equally heartening that this Joint Vision Statement includes concrete action plans to advance the trilateral defense cooperation and not only among the three nations but also with other like-minded States interested in the preservation of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” Speaker Romualdez said. 

He cited the commitment of the U.S. and Japan in the joint statement to continue supporting the Philippine Coast Guard capacity building, including through Japan’s recent provision of twelve Coast Guard vessels and plans to provide five additional vessels to the Philippines.  

The US also said it looks forward to welcoming Philippine and Japan Coast Guard members onto a U.S. Coast Guard vessel during a patrol in the Indo-Pacific this year and announced plans for a joint at-sea trilateral exercise and other maritime activities to improve interoperability and advance maritime security and safety. 

“We emphasize our commitment to advancing multilateral maritime domain awareness cooperation through such venues as the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA),” the joint statement added.

The joint statement also announced additional combined naval training and exercises between the three countries and additional partners, such as the recently concluded Maritime Cooperative Activity between Japan, the Philippines, the United States, and Australia, and by coordinating U.S. and Japanese support for Philippine defense modernization priorities. 

In the same statement, the U.S. and Japan also welcomed the growing defense cooperation between Australia and the Philippines and between the Philippines and the Republic of Korea.