Duterte bats for peace, stability in South China Sea as ASEAN twin summits begin

Published October 26, 2021, 9:24 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

President Duterte has reiterated his call for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to remain united in pursuing peace, stability, and prosperity in the South China Sea in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award.

President Rodrigo Duterte attends the first day of the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits on Oct. 26, 2021. (Screenshot from RTVM Facebook)

“We have come a long way in keeping the peace and promoting prosperity in our region. We

must not allow those with diverging interests to make our efforts fail,” Duterte said, as per a statement from Malacañang on Tuesday night, Oct. 26 regarding the Philippine leader’s participation in the ongoing 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits.

The Arbitral Award refers to the Philippines’ victory in the case it lodged before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, wherein it challenged regional power China’s expansive nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.

The case was initiated by the previous Aquino administration.

China, a dialogue partner of the ASEAN, has never recognized the Philippines’ Arbitral Award. Despite this, Manila under the Duterte administration has had friendlier ties with Beijing compared to the previous administration.

In his intervention at the 24th ASEAN-China Summit, President Duterte stated that dynamic ASEAN-China cooperation puts both sides in a formidable position to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, address climate change and manage geopolitical issues.

He thanked China for supporting ASEAN’s pandemic response, particularly by making life-saving vaccines global public goods.

Noting that 2017-2027 is the Decade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea, the President reiterated the Philippines’ call for holistic efforts to protect and preserve biodiversity and the marine environment.

President Duterte also urged countries to translate commitments into action as regards the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

“Talks should not remain empty rhetoric. They should be translated into action to fortify the trust and confidence we have cultivated through the years. Acta non verba. Deeds, not words,” said Duterte

The President lauded the Philippines’ contribution to the substantive progress in the second reading of the Single Draft Code of Conduct (COC) Negotiating Text, as it reaffirms its commitment to the conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

Members of Duterte’s Cabinet attend the first day of the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits on Oct. 26, 2021. (Screenshot from RTVM Facebook)

Duterte is attending the simultaneous 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits virtually via video conference. The events, which are being hosted by Brunei, will run from Oct. 26 to 28.

Joining the President during the first day of the Summits were key government officials, including Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin, Jr., Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, Secretary of Trade and Industry Ramon Lopez, Secretary of Social Welfare and Development Rolando Joselito Bautista and Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity Carlito Galvez, Jr.