Palace urges nations not to worsen tensions in South China Sea

South China Sea. Image: Twitter

Malacañang has called on countries involved in the South China Sea issue to refrain from worsening tensions after China adopted a law allowing its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels entering disputed territories and demolish foreign structures.

“Sana po walang gagawin ang kahit na anong bansa dito sa usaping West Philippine Sea na magpapalala pa po ng sitwasyon (I hope countries would not do anything in relation to the West Philippine Sea issue that will worsen the situation),” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing on Monday, January 25.

Last week, China passed the Coast Guard Law, permitting its coast guard to use “all necessary means” to stop or prevent threats from foreign vessels.

The Palace, for its part, stressed that China and other sovereign countries should comply with its obligations in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“Habang meron pong kapangyarihan ang bansa dahil sa siya’y soberenya na magpasa ng batas na iiral sa kanyang teritoryo, ‘yang mga batas po ‘yan ay kinakailangan sumunod pa rin sa mga obligasyon sang-ayon sa United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea kung saan kasapi po ang Tsina (While countries have the power as a sovereign state to pass laws asserting territory, these laws have to follow obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, where China is a signatory),” said Roque.

“Under general international law po, yung paggamit po ng dahas ay generally prohibited except for two well-defined exceptions by way of self-defense at kinakailangan po merong sending of armed troops into the territory of China at kinakailangan ang paggamit po ng dahas ay necessary at proportional at when authorized by the UN Security Council (Under general international law, the use of force is generally prohibited except for two well-defined exceptions. By way of self-defense, there should be sending of armed troops into the territory of China and the use of force should be necessary and proportional; and when authorized by the UN Security Council),” he added.

Roque also reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for the completion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea

“Ang deklarasyon po ng ating Presidente tapusin na po natin ang ating code of conduct at lahat po sana ng mga claimants sa West Philippine Sea ay sumunod sa code of conduct (The declaration of the President is to finish a code of conduct and that all claimants of the West Philippine Sea follow this code of conduct),” he said.

On several occasions, China has refused to acknowledge the Philippines’ arbitral award that invalidated China’s claim over the entire South China Sea.

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