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Marcos urges Asean to ‘oppose dangerous use of militia vessels’ in South China Sea

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to “oppose the dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea” which could “increase tensions in the region, misunderstandings, and miscalculations” in the disputed waterway.

Marcos made the call during the 18th East Asia Summit, a related meeting of the 43rd Asean Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Philippines’ President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. attends the 18th East Asia Summit as part of the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta on September 7, 2023. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / POOL / AFP)

“The Philippines fully supports adherence to international law and the rules-based order. We must oppose the dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea. We are concerned over illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and the militarization of reclaimed features in the South China Sea,” he said.

The Chief Executive expressed his concern over the aggressive and consistent actions of some parties in the contested territory which, he said, are in violation of obligations under international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and under the Declaration on the Conduct (DoC) of the Parties in the South China Sea.

“We must not allow tensions in the South China Sea to further escalate. In this spirit and in accordance with the DoC, we continue to urge all parties to exercise self-restraint and refrain from unilateral and assertive activities that would increase tensions in the region, misunderstandings, and miscalculations in the South China Sea,” he stated.

“The Philippines remains resolute towards the peaceful resolution of disputes. We continue to support freedom of navigation and overflight, and the rules-based international order in the South China Sea,” he added.

He then reiterated that the country would not resort to violent means with regards to the territorial dispute.

“We are still committed to defending our sovereignty, our sovereign rights, and maritime jurisdiction in accordance with UNCLOS,” the President said.

Apart from the Philippines, other ASEAN member states who lay claim to territories in the South China Sea are Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

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