Jul 132014
Malacañang on Sunday welcomed a US Senate Resolution promoting the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes in the Asia-Pacific region.

Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. said the resolution affirms the strategic partnership between the Philippines and the US.

“This Resolution affirms the long-standing strategic partnership between the Philippines and the United States that is highlighted by the recent signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement,” a Palace statement quoted Coloma as saying.

In a radio briefing, he also said the resolution supports stepped-up efforts among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-countries to flesh out a Code of Conduct that will govern maritime entitlements in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea.

Such a code of conduct will also govern the Philippines’ recourse to the United Nations’ arbitral tribunal.

Coloma said the Philippines reiterates its commitment to “pursue diplomatic, political and legal options, as well as our  solidarity with our ASEAN neighbors and other allies toward the peaceful resolution of disputes and the promotion of  long-term stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”

US Senate Resolution 412 is a “resolution reaffirming the strong support of the United States Government for freedom of navigation and other internationally lawful uses of sea and airspace in the Asia-Pacific region, and for the peaceful diplomatic resolution of outstanding territorial and maritime claims and disputes.”

Sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez, it was introduced April 7 and was agreed to in the Senate with amendments last July 10.

The measure states that the US Senate:

  1. Condemns coercive actions or the use of force to impede freedom of operations in international airspace to alter the status quo or to destabilize the Asia-Pacific region
  2. Urges China to refrain from implementing the declared East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone and to refrain from taking similar provocative actions elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region
  3. Commends Japan and the Republic of Korea for their restraint
  4. Calls on China to withdraw its HD-981 drilling rig and associated maritime forces from their current positions, refrain from maritime maneuvers contrary to the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, and return to the status quo as it existed before May 1, 2014.

It also set forth US policy regarding:

  1. Supporting allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region
  2. Opposing claims that impinge on the rights, freedoms, and lawful use of the sea
  3. Managing disputes without intimidation or force
  4. Supporting development of regional institutions to build cooperation and reinforce the role of international law
  5. Assuring continuity of operations by the United States in the Asia-Pacific region.

Joel Locsin/JDS, GMA News

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