MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) welcomes the strong statements recently made by US officials criticizing China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said it is in the interest of the US to maintain stability in the region.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier told Beijing that the US will stand by its allies, referring to the Philippines and Japan, amid the simmering row in the West Philippine Sea.
The US State Department has also called the Chinese coast guard’s attempt to block a Philippine resupply mission to the Ayungin Shoal “provocative and destabilizing”.
“The US itself has a very strategic interest to maintain peace and stability in the region… because of concerns of freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight so they are deeply concerned with this development in this part of the region,” Jose told ANC’s Headstart.
“Being treaty partners, we have heard very strong and very forceful statements recently from top US government officials that they are bound by their commitment to our treaty and bound to protect us as treaty partners.”
The Philippines recently filed its “memorial” or written arguments before an arbitral tribunal to challenge Beijing’s claims over the disputed waters.
Jose said although Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries also pitted in maritime disputes with China have remained silent over the filing of the case before the arbitral tribunal, they are closely monitoring every development.
“ASEAN countries are following very closely our arbitration case filed before the UN (United Nations) because this will have a significant implication on their overlapping claims with China as well,” he said.
“They have also been following very closely China’s behavior in the South China Sea. Individually, they are taking up measures to strengthen their defense in the South China Sea.”
The DFA is also confident that the Philippines can count on the support of the ASEAN in its arbitration case against China, noting the advances made in the formulation of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.
“We already had our second round of meetings in Singapore to conclude as soon as possible this Code of Conduct. To our surprise they (China) agreed, because before they have been not too receptive in taking a step further going to the COC, but now they already agreed to talk,” he said. (MNS)