MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III will call for a collective statement on the South China Sea when he attends the 26th ASEAN Summit in Malaysia on April 26-27, 2015.
In a briefing in Malacanang on Monday, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary Luis Cruz said “the reclamation issue will be the main topic that the President will raise during the agenda item of the retreat on discussions of regional and international issues.”
“This is a meeting of his fellow ASEAN leaders. Of course, we would always aim for a collective statement, this time on the issue of the reclamation of some features in the South China Sea,” he said.
Cruz clarified that the event “is not a negotiation among the leaders” but will serve as a venue where “they can express their views, not only on the South China Sea, but what they think are the security issues in the region and internationally.”
Relatively, Cruz said discussions between leaders of the ASEAN and of China are ongoing for them to come up with a successor legal document after the signing of the Declaration of Parties on the Code of Conduct in 2002.
He said three meetings had been held to establish a legally-binding document since the Declaration is not legally binding.
Asked on whether President Aquino will personally meet with other claimants of the disputed waters during the summit to discuss China’s reclamation bid, Cruz said there are no moves for such meetings.
“As the President has said, this is already a global issue, not just a bilateral issue. So, what we are pursuing is this track of making people from other parts of the world aware of the seriousness of what is happening on the ground and on the seas because this will considerably alter the way of doing business globally,” he added.