House leader backs PBBM's call for 'code of conduct' in South China Sea, hits China

A House leader and legal luminary is supporting "100 percent" President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.'s call for a code of conduct (COC) in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and in the entire South China Sea (SCS).

Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (left) and President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. (Facebook)

“A code of conduct is the way to go forward to peacefully and amicably resolve territorial disputes among countries in the region,” Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said in a statement Saturday, Nov. 12.

The President made the call at the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-China Summit on Friday in Cambodia. The ASEAN-China Summit is part of the ongoing 40th and 41st ASEAN Summit and related summits.

Marcos said the planned COC would be “an example of how states manage their differences: through reason and through right.”

He said he therefore welcomed the “progress on textual negotiations on the COC this past year and hopefully an approved code in the very near future".

Rodriguez, chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments. said he does not see any problem with ASEAN countries agreeing on rules of conduct and resolving their conflicting territorial claims bilaterally and even multilaterally.

“The problem is with China, which has been the aggressor all these years. ASEAN members should collectively make a plea for China to respect and abide by the planned code of conduct,” he said.

He said he could not understand why China has been claiming a large part of the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) the Philippines is entitled to under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“They want our EEZ, from north in Panatag Shoal off Pangasinan and Zambales, to south in Ayungin Shoal in Palawan. Every now and then, they harass our fishermen and the platoon of Filipino soldiers heroically guarding our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the lonely and dangerous seas off Palawan,” Rodriguez added.

The WPS is located in the broader SCS. China has insisted that it has historical rights over the entire SCS.