As far as the Philippines' claim to the South China Sea, or West Philippine Sea goes, the country now wants to establish a code of conduct in the disputed waters in order to ease current tensions amidst various claims in the area. Most importantly, the Philippines wants the said framework to become legally binding so that disputes can finally be managed in a diplomatic manner.
"The whole purpose of the code of conduct is to try and see how these disputes can be managed in a peaceful way, in a non-confrontational way," ABS-CBN News reported Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Enrique Manalo as saying.
However, Manalo admits that coming up with the said code is quite challenging today due to various reports that China has already put up several military infrastructures in the disputed islands.
South China Sea Philippines Ruling
Last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague had issued a ruling in favor of the Philippines with regard to the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea. According to the Tribunal's press release, China's historic rights in the area have long been extinguished as they proved to be incompatible with exclusive economic zones covered by the Convention. Moreover, the Tribunal also invalidated China's claims in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea using the so-called "nine-dash line."
In response, China strongly objected The Hague's ruling, saying that it refused to accept any decision made. On the other hand, Manalo said that it will not bring up The Hague ruling during the ASEAN 2017 summit.
"The Hague ruling is a fact. It's a fact of law. So, there's nothing really to discuss about it. It's there, and it's up for all countries to observe it as they wish," he explained.
The framework for the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea code of conduct is expected to be developed by the end of 2017. As for China, it seems to be pleased about the Philippines hosting this year's Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
"China stands ready to offer its support to the Philippines in executing its role as the ASEAN rotating chair and elevate China-ASEAN relations to a new height," China Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.
What do you think of the Philippines' desire to establish a South China Sea/West Philippine Sea code of conduct? Let us know in the comments section below.