Pres. Duterte calls for ASEAN unity in pressing South China Sea stability

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his remarks during the plenary session of the virtual 38th and 39th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits and Related Summits hosted by Brunei Darussalam at the Malacañang Palace on October 26, 2021. ARMAN BAYLON/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO


(Eagle News) – President Rodrigo Duterte called for member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to remain united in pursuing peace, stability and prosperity in the South China Sea.

In his participation at the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits via video conference, President Duterte said the regional bloc should pursue initiatives in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award that favored the Philippines.

“We have come a long way in keeping the peace and promoting prosperity in our region. We must not allow those with diverging interests to make our efforts fail,” he stressed.

The 76-year old Philippine leader called for concrete actions on the South China Sea by both ASEAN members states and China with regards to maintaining stability in the region and committing to the the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in the midst of the evolving geopolitical situation in Asia.

During his intervention at the 24th ASEAN-China Summit, President Duterte urged countries to translate their commitments into action.

“Talks should not remain empty rhetoric. They should be translated into action to fortify the trust and confidence we have cultivated through the years. Acta non verba. Deeds, not words,” the President said.

Duterte also prodded action on an effective Code of Conduct on the South China Sea which is still in the process of finalization. The Single Draft COC Negotiating Text is still on second reading.

Duterte cited the country’s contribution to the progress on the COC. He also reaffirmed the Philippines’ “commitment to the conclusion of an effective and substantive COC,” Malacanang said in a release.

“Noting 2017-2027 as the Decade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea, the President reiterated the Philippines’ call for holistic efforts to protect and preserve biodiversity and the marine environment,” the Palace said in its release.

This is President Duterte’s final participation in the ASEAN Summit as he would be finishing his term in June 2022.

(Eagle News Service)