Palace denies Beijing law killed hope for South China Sea code of conduct

AdChoiceTV News — Malacañang does not believe that China’s passage of a controversial law that allows its Coast Guard to use armed force against foreign vessels has killed any hope to have a binding code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

This, after retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio said that Beijing’s passage of the law is proof of China’s “bad faith” in its ongoing talks with Southeast Asian countries to pass a COC in South China Sea, or also known as the West Philippine Sea.

“I don’t think so po, dahil iyan naman po ay patuloy na tinatanggap at pinag-uusapan ng mga bansa na mayroong kaniya-kaniyang claim diyan sa West Philippine Sea,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in an online briefing Monday.

The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest against China’s Coast Guard law. Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said the law could be seen as a “verbal threat of war” to countries that defied it, citing the overlapping territorial claims of countries, such as Vietnam, Taiwan, and Malaysia in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, Roque said the Philippines can take China anew to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to question its new Coast Guard law.

“Ang China po hindi pu-puwedeng dalhin sa International Court of Justice dahil wala po siyang consent na mag-litigate doon sa ICJ. Ang pu-puwedeng gawin po ay diyan nga po sa International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, gaya ng ginawa natin, dahil by being a party to UNCLOS, she also become a party to the compulsory dispute settlement mechanism,” he said.

“There is a probability, but the decision on whether or not to actually do so will be dictated by national interest, not only of the Philippines, but also of the different ASEAN countries,” Roque added. “Hayaan na po nating magdesisyon sa mga bagay na iyan ang DFA but like in our domestic jurisprudence kinakailangan we need to show that the enforcement of a law will in fact violate the rights of an individual and we need to show that there is an actual case or controversy as well.”

Roque meanwhile shrugged off criticisms that the Philippine military has been too focused on red-tagging activities instead of guarding the country’s waters against threats posed by China.

He dismissed concerns that the military is neglecting Chinese aggressions in the South China Sea to focus on its anti-insurgency campaign as mere propaganda.

“Hindi po totoo na obsessed sila sa isa at napapabayaan na iyong isa. Eh nahuli nga po iyong dredging vessel, ano ba kayo; kung natutulog sa pansitan ang ating Hukbong Sandatahan eh nakalusot iyang dredging vessel na iyan,” Roque said, referring a Chinese dredging vessel intercepted by the Philippine Coast Guard near Bataan last week.

DFA Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin took to twitter and express his disappointment over Spox Harry Roque. “I AM NOT LISTENING TO HARRY ROQUE. LOVE THE GUY BUT HE’S NOT COMPETENT IN THIS FIELD. WE DO NOT GO BACK TO The Hague. WE MIGHT LOSE WHAT WE WON. HARRY, LAY OFF.” He said.

The Philippine military has been slammed for aggressively red-tagging or linking students and activists to communist groups over the past months, while supposedly backing down from Beijing’s aggression in South China Sea. — via Letizia Tinoco

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