Pangilinan: Asean-China talks on territorial dispute should be anchored on respect

(Eagle News) — Talks for the creation of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea should be anchored on “respect,” Senator Kiko Pangilinan said on Thursday, Nov. 15.

“Respect. For oneself, for who you’re talking to, for your countrymen, for the environment. That should be the basis of any Asean-China talks on the Code of Conduct in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea,” Pangilinan said in a statement.

According to Pangilinan, after the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that invalidated China’s claims to the South China Sea, several things should be done.

“Engage with China, with our Asean neighbors, and with their people. Explain the victory of the Philippines is a win for all, especially to the small fishermen, whether Filipino, Chinese, or from Asean,” he said.

“Push for a zone of peace and sustainability in the seas we are duty-bound to protect; highlight the participation of fishermen, seafarers, and the so-called environmental activists or environmental advocates,” he added.

According to Pangilinan, “no one wants conflict.”

“Listen to the sentiments of ordinary citizens…The governments of the Philippines, China, and Asean should not forget that in these talks, they represent their people and the next generation — those who are most affected by their decisions,” he said.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte, who is the country coordinator for the ASEAN-China meeting, said he would “try” his “best” to complete negotiations on the COC soon.

Prior to this, Chinese Premier  Li Keqiang expressed hope for a COC in three years’ time.

Duterte has also reiterated his opposition to military drills in the South China Sea, noting that China was “already in possession” of some features.