PH commits to resolve SCS dispute peacefully — Navy chief

Published September 26, 2020, 12:27 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Philippine Navy (PN) has maintained its position that the best way to settle the maritime dispute at the South China Sea (SCS) is through peaceful means and adherence to international laws.

(Photo from Philippine Navy)

Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, PN Flag Officer in Command, emphasized this during his participation in a virtual key leaders engagement with the chiefs of 14 regional navies hosted by the United States Pacific Fleet on Friday.

“The Commander-in-Chief’s guidance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines is crystal clear. But in doing so, we reaffirm our commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes and the adherence to international laws,” Bacordo told his counterparts.

Aside from the Philippines and US, the virtual meeting was also attended by the navy chiefs of Bangladesh, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Fiji, France, New Zealand, Tonga, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore.

Bacordo went on to echo the remarks of President Duterte at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last September 22 that the award issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands “is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish, or abandon.”

The award, issued by the PCA in 2016, rejected China’s “nine-dash line” claim in a major portion of South China Sea on the basis of its inconsistency with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and was, therefore, deemed an intrusion in the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exlusive economic zone (EEZ) now known as the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Bacordo’s raising of the arbitral win at the top level meet of navy chiefs was a “manifestation of [the PN’s] unfaltering commitment and firm dedication in promoting stability and cooperation in the region,” said Lieutenant Commander Maria Christina Roxas, acting director of the naval public affairs office.

Roxas added that it was also a way to bolster the Philippines’ ties and friendship with the other navies.

Aside from the arbitral award, Bacordo also discussed the role of the navy in helping the government fight the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its impact in Manila’s international defense and security engagements with its allies.