Sea row, Rohingya plight may be tackled in ASEAN Summit

Published April 20, 2018, 4:26 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the issue in the South China Sea and the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar may be tackled during in the 32nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore next week.

This handout photo taken on January 25, 2018 and released by the Indian Press Information Bureau (PIB) shows India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) waving along with the ASEAN Heads of State/Governments during a group photograph at the ASEAN – India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi. (AFP PHOTO / PIB / MANILA BULLETIN)
This handout photo taken on January 25, 2018 and released by the Indian Press Information Bureau (PIB) shows India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) waving along with the ASEAN Heads of State/Governments during a group photograph at the ASEAN – India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi.
(AFP PHOTO / PIB / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Duterte and the leaders of the nine other ASEAN member states are set to attend the summit on April 27 to 28. The current chairman of the regional bloc is Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

According to DFA Assistant Secretary Hellen De La Vega, the issue on the South China Sea is always a regular feature in discussions.

However, she said it would be better first to raise topics that are not as complicated as the maritime dispute that includes China and six other ASEAN states — the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia.

“At the moment, we’re in that meeting of looking at the issues where we can find convergence, common convergence rather than the most complicated issues,” she told Malacañang reporters this morning.

“But of course, it will always be a goal of the Philippines to make sure that all issues are looked at or are covered by the COC (Code of Conduct),” she added.

She said the COC is not meant to resolve the disputes, but is meant to manage incidents, prevent incidents from happening that may escalate or create situations that may complicate peace and stability in the region.

According to De La Vega, resolving the South China Sea issue will take some time and it would be more preferable to improve the relationship between ASEAN and China.

“These things will take some time. And so I think what is important is that we put a premium on the positive momentum that we have now in the improvement of ASEAN-China relations and we will see how we will progress in the next few years,” she said.

Malacañang earlier revealed that during the ASEAN Summit in November last year, the 10 leaders agreed to officially begin the COC negotiations, taking advantage of the calmer situation in the disputed waters.

Rohingya Muslims

Meanwhile, De La Vega said it can be expected that the 10 ASEAN leaders may discuss developments on the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

“I think that you can also expect that it’s regular feature as well, that these leaders will be discussing developments there. And I won’t be surprised if Myanmar will offer to brief the leaders on developments in Rakhine,” she said.

The Palace said last year that the situation in Rakhine was briefly discussed during the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila last year. The ASEAN also vowed to assist Myanmar to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.

 
CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP
 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

["news"]
[2496817,2814292,2534630,2485825,2408462,2358243,2358052,2344118,2339143,2047660,1998697,996820,995332,995948,995006,994327,994303,993947,993860,993770,993529,993383,993285,798318,3060180,3060397,3060182,3060179,3060177,3060175]