(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte expressed grave concern over activities in the South China Sea that erode trust and confidence with existing mechanisms, as he pressed for the immediate conclusion of the binding code of conduct in the South China Sea.
Duterte, who returned to the country Sunday night, was disappointed with the slow action on the Code of the Conduct on the South China Sea even as the Philippines as country coordinator of the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations continued to press for fast action.
“The President expressed grave concern over activities in the South China Sea that he said erode trust and confidence and undermine peace and stability in the region,” said a Malacanang statement.
Delays in the negotiations for a substantive and effective code of conduct are detrimental to the region, he said.
The President urged ASEAN and China to act quickly, noting that “the faster we finish the process, the more credible ASEAN and China will be as partners for security and stability.”
“At the same time, President Duterte called for the effective implementation of international instruments, such as the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to create a conducive environment for negotiations and maintain peace and stability,” the Palace statement added.
Disputes in the flashpoint South China Sea emerged during the summit, where the Philippine leader protested Beijing’s sweeping claims in the resource-rich waterway, particularly China’s nine-dash line claim.
President Duterte said he was “disappointed” that a much-delayed code of conduct between ASEAN countries and China has seen little progress.
Without such a blueprint there was a greater chance “for miscalculations that may spiral out of control,” he added.
Duterte, on the other hand, conveyed his gratitude to the captain and crew of the Vietnamese fishing vessel who saved Filipino fishermen near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea last week.
“In the midst of profound geopolitical shifts, the President called on ASEAN to be the voice of reason and moderation in the region, protecting time-honored principles of international law,” a Palace release said.
Duterte also expressed concern on the impact of the ongoing US-China trade war on global growth and economic integration, and urged both sides to resolve their differences.
He pressed ASEAN to strengthen its commitment to a rules-based multilateral trading system.
He also “highlighted the need for the ASEAN to intensify cooperation in addressing non-traditional security threats, such as terrorism, violent extremism, transnational crimes, illegal drugs, and climate change, stressing heavy polluters must be held to account,” Malacanang said.
The President also pushed for enhanced regional efforts to combat marine debris and prevent the export of garbage to ASEAN countries, it added.
At the conclusion of the summit, ASEAN leaders adopted four important documents: the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on Partnership for Sustainability, the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on the ASEAN Cultural Year 2019, and the Bangkok Declaration on Combatting Marine Debris in ASEAN Region.