MANILA–Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and China need to put in place an enforcement provision and dispute mechanism in the code of conduct for managing the dispute in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea to ensure its effectiveness, a former envoy said on Wednesday.
This suggestion was made by former foreign affairs undersecretary for policy and ambassador to the United Nations Lauro Baja Jr. on the sidelines of a forum and book launch of “The ASEAN Drama: Half a Century and Still Unfolding.”
“If the code of conduct will not touch on new occupation, militarization or reclamation, it will be a step back from the Declaration on the Conduct,” he said in an interview with reporters.
ASEAN members and China signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002 to resolve territorial dispute peacefully.
Baja believed that without the so-called enforcement provision and dispute mechanism in the code of conduct for the disputed West Philippine Sea/South China Sea, such code “will again be in the nature by political declaration.”
“If the framework agreement will not refer to the arbitral panel decision, it won’t be an advance for Philippines,” he said.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in July last year invalidated China’s “nine-dash line” entitlement over the entire West Philippine Sea because it overlapped with the Philippines 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Meanwhile, a bilateral consultation mechanism between China and the Philippines on the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea will be held on Friday in Guiyang, Guizhou Province in Southwest China.
Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana and Vice Foreign Minister of China Liu Zhenmin will lead delegations to the meeting.
Other countries have also made competing claims over parts or all of the West Philippine Sea, including Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.