MANILA–The Philippines is optimistic that two to three high-level agreements or declarations, including the framework for a code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea (WPS)/South China Sea, will be reached during its ASEAN chairmanship this year.
“That (completion of framework) will really be a big milestone,” said acting Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Robespierre Bolivar in a press briefing on Wednesday.
Bolivar said the framework for a code of conduct in the WPS is still work in process.
“But definitely, all 10 ASEAN member states and China have expressed commitment to finish the framework and they have even set the mid-2017 as an ideal target,” he added.
The code of conduct was meant to manage territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea in a peaceful way.
The ASEAN and China will then start negotiating for the actual code after they come up with the framework.
Bolivar, in an earlier interview with the Philippines News Agency, identified the two other agreements that the ASEAN member states were expected to complete this year.
He said these are the declaration for the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers from all ASEAN members, and the proposed agreement on the role of civil service in ASEAN community building.
Meanwhile, the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN (CPR) started a series of official meetings here on Wednesday that will culminate with the 30th ASEAN Summit on April 29.
”The basic task of CPR is to prepare the groundwork for the Summit on Saturday. So anything that needs to be ironed out will have to be ironed out at the CPR,” Bolivar said.
The CPR is composed of the Ambassadors to ASEAN of all 10 ASEAN Member States namely, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Bolivar said the ASEAN Senior Officials would meet on Thursday, while the ministerial meetings would take place on Friday at the Philippine International Convention Center.