May 302013
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday claimed that China and not the Philippines was allegedly violating the Declaration on the Code of Conduct (DOC) in disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea.

Gazmin made the statement in a chance interview with reporters at Camp Aquinaldo a day after his meeting with Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing over questions about whether or not China will remove its ships from the Ayungin Shoal.

On Wednesday, Gazmin said China intends to keep monitoring Manila over concerns that the Philippines intends to put up new structures on Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas) in the disputed Spratly Islands.

Gazmin explained that China was concerned about a Philippine ship that was on its way to the Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Gazmin explained that the ship is not there to build structures in the disputed territories but is on a supply mission.

On Thursday, Gazmin said, “Well we’ve been adhering to the conduct, we’ve been following the DOC, wala naman tayong viniolate.”

Gazmin alleged that it is China that is not adhering to the DOC.

“Sila ang hindi [sumusunod], kaya nga ito pwedeng [isama] sa ating mga protesta, kaya nga lumalabas yang sunud-sunod na protest natin,” Gazmin said.

“Tayo ay nagpupunta dun because of routine provisional missions, at saka yung regular rotation of forces. Ang tao dun stays there for three months, alangan naman three months ka dun sa barko, ang area mo napakaliit, tapos puro dagat lang so kailangan constant ang rotation,” he added.


Meanwhile, Gazmin reiterated the Philippine government’s commitment to deescalation in the territories.

“Ang dapat nating gawin yung hindi natin i-escalate yung problema natin kasi merong tayong kasong finile para sa ganun ay hindi majeopardize yung legal proceedings,” he said.

The Defense Secretary is on the way to Singapore for a dialogue with other Defense MInisters of other countries. While there, Gazmin said he will conduct several bilateral talks.

“[The conference is for] different ministers of defense or secretary of defense and [other] defense officials [to] meet and interact with each other regarding issues of security concerns, both dito sa ating region and sa international community,’ Gazmin said.

“Magkakaron din kami ng pagkakataong magkaroon ng bileterals with these countries. Ang kabileral ko as of now will be US, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia,” Gazmin added. However he admitted that no scheduled talked with the Chinese defense head has been scheduled.

“China, wala. Hindi kasama,” he said

Declaration of Sea Code of Conduct

In November 2002, a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea was signed between the ASEAN and China. Parties involved have yet to pen the actual code of conduct however, as China has continuously insisted on a bilateral approach to territorial disputes.

The Philippines and China have been locked in a territorial dispute over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal since April 2012.

Both countries are also among six claimants to the Spratly Islands, which China calls the Nansha Islands. The other claimants include Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

The Aquino administration earlier favored peaceful negotiations and country to country relations with China to try and resolve the dispute, but have since elevated to an International Arbitral Tribunal, protesting China’s so-called nine-dash claim to almost the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea. Patricia Denise Chiu, VVP, GMA News

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