NSA Carlos drafts possible legal framework for disputed South China Sea

National Security Advisor (NSA) Clarita R. Carlos on Friday, Sept. 2, said that she is drafting a book on regional fishing agreement that may become a regulatory framework or common legal framework for the six countries that are claiming sovereignty over the South China Sea.

National Security Advisor Clarita R. Carlos (Jel Santos/Manila Bulletin)

The six countries with territorial claims to the South China Sea are the Philippines, Brunei, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

“Siguro kailangan talaga ng isang regulatory framework (Maybe we need a regulatory framework) and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m writing a book on the regional fishing agreement. I hope it will be finished and become a platform for all the six countries that are claiming territory over the South China Sea, for them to have a common legal framework on when to fish, what to fish, when not to fish,” she said in an ambush interview during an event dubbed as “Landmark five-country analysis of South China Sea fish stocks” held in a hotel in Manila.

She said part of the regulatory framework is how to address overfishing in order to make sure that fish will not be extinct and fish stock of the claimant-countries will not diminish.

Carlos said the book she is writing on regional fishing agreement is a way to move away from the high politics area of discussing territory and sovereignty and to “gain some headway in the various rival claims in the contested sea.”

She said she wants the six countries contesting the South China Sea to talk and seek a consensus on a regulatory framework involving fishing activities.

“Why I’m moving towards that direction? Because I think that real politics, you know all these belligerent actions by many political actors in the South China Sea, will not amount to anything except the ultimate, which we all would not want to think about, which is war,” explained Carlos, who concurrently sits as the chairperson of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS).

“So let us not go there and the way to do that is to make sure that we will shift our dialogue, and our dialogue now will be about fish. Let’s talk fish, let’s talk regulatory framework about fish, and you will realize this will spill over into other areas where we are seeing that because we are so preoccupied with fish, the scientist will also be so preoccupied,” she added.

In 2021, fishermen have cried foul over the alleged harassment they have experienced from foreign vessels while they were fishing in Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough, which is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales, still within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone or EEZ.

China’s nine-dash line claims in the South China Sea were rejected by an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in July 2016 in a case brought by the Philippines in 2013 based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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