By Roy Mabasa
Experts from the Philippines along with those from other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states and China are meeting in Manila this week to build on the gains that have been achieved so far in efforts to build peace and stability in the South China Sea.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, it will host the seminar on the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) on August 28 and 29.
The DFA said senior diplomats, policy-makers and maritime cooperation scholars from the member states of the ASEAN and China, as well as representatives from think tanks and the academe, will exchange views on how to further enhance practical cooperation between ASEAN and China in the South China Sea.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said the seminar seeks to build on what has been achieved so far in efforts to build trust and confidence among the parties involved in the South China Sea issue.
“The seminar also seeks to boost regional efforts to ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea, to help prevent maritime accidents, and to preserve and protect the marine environment and promote sustainable fisheries,” Secretary Cayetano said.
Likewise, he said the seminar highlights the commitment of the Philippines to implement the DOC while it continues with efforts to craft a substantive and effective Code of Conduct.
“These practical measures are essential in ensuring that the region remains peaceful and stable, and that the interests of coastal states like the Philippines are protected,” the Secretary added.
Paragraph 6 of the DOC calls on ASEAN and China to “explore or undertake cooperative activities [including] marine environment protection, marine scientific research, safety of navigation and communication at sea, search and rescue operations and combating transnational crime [at sea]” pending a comprehensive and durable settlement of the disputes.
This is the second such seminar convened by the DFA. The first seminar, which the DFA organized in 2015, focused discussions on peaceful settlement of disputes and what constitutes “self-restraint” as it applies to activities of claimant states in the South China Sea.
Paragraph 5 of the DOC calls on all parties to “exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.”
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