Press Release
March 6, 2011

Legarda on South China Sea Incident: Parties Must Respect
Commitment to DOC

Senator Loren Legarda today said that state parties to the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea must respect the provisions of the agreement to ensure continuous pleasant relationships among nations.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, made the statement following a recent incident wherein Chinese patrol boats allegedly harassed a Philippine exploration vessel near the Spratlys group of islands in the South China Sea.

The Senator noted that both China and the Philippines are signatories to the DOC, which provides that parties concerned should resolve territorial and jurisdictional issues in a peaceful manner, particularly through "friendly consultations and negotiations" by the states involved.

"The recent incident has to be looked into towards ensuring that the Parties continue to remain committed to the DOC and its principles, key among which are prohibition against the use of force and threats of force, and cooperation," she said.

"Vital to keeping peace and stability in the region is for the Parties to exert good will and positive efforts to abide by the principles laid down in the DOC," she added.

Legarda said that the incident all the more underscores the importance of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, toward promoting lasting peace and stability in the region.

"Evidently, policies on this issue cannot be oversimplified. It is important to approach this incident with the view to ensuring that the Parties will remain committed to exploring ways for building trust and confidence on the basis of equality and mutual respect," Legarda concluded.

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