Press Release
June 14, 2011

Legarda: Spratlys Claimants Should Adhere to their Agreement under DOC

Senator Loren Legarda today said that claimants to the Spratly Islands must continue their adherence and respect their commitment to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to ensure pleasant relationships among nations.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, explained that based on the DOC, should there be any territorial and jurisdictional disputes among the state claimants to the Spratlys, these concerns must be resolved in a peaceful manner, without resorting to threat or use of force.

Friendly consultations and negotiations by concerned parties are also espoused by the DOC, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"It is to the region's and the international community's collective interest that the parties remain committed to exploring ways for building trust and confidence on the basis of equality and mutual respect," Legarda stressed.

Meanwhile, the Senator said that referring to the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea is an accurate geographic reference to the areas being contested.

"More than just the references, however, we should strive to look at ways by which diplomacy may assume a bigger role in the on-going discussions. No amount of saber rattling can bring us to an acceptable resolution of the crisis. It is about time that we let our diplomats do what they are expected to do. In the same vein, we expect the other state parties to respect the principles enshrined in the DOC," Legarda said.

She also stressed that the recent incidents involving Spratly claimants all the more underscores the importance of developing and adopting a Code of Conduct so that appropriate mechanisms and guidelines may be put in place.

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