Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert F. del Rosario said on Friday, May 9, that they will highlight the Philippines’ advocacy for the rule of law, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to be specific, at the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on Saturday, May 10.
The meeting marks the 24th ASEAN Summit on Sunday, which comes amidst prolonged tensions this week between ASEAN members Vietnam and the Philippines, against China in the South China Sea, which the Malacañang Palace calls the West Philippine Sea.
Water collisions and blasts marked the confrontation between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels as China relocated a deep-sea oilrig into disputed territory.
Philippine maritime cops, on the other hand, intercepted a Chinese fishing vessel and arrested its 11-civilian crew off Puerto Prinsesa in Palawan after finding hundreds of endangered native turtles were loaded on the ship.
Apart from the foreign ministers’ meeting, Del Rosario will also participate in the 11th ASEAN Political-Security Community Council Meeting and the 14th Meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Council.
The toppings for discussion at the ASEAN meeting, held around the theme “Moving Forward in Unity to a Peaceful and Prosperous Community,” are the following:
- Regional and international issues
- Guidelines and future directions for ASEAN’s external relations
- Climate change, disaster management, transnational crime
- Food and energy security
- Small and Medium Enterprises
- Human rights
ASEAN leaders are also expected to tackle toward a quick finalization of a Code of Conduct (COC) for the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Other ASEAN members like Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei are also claimants of territories (Spratly Islands Ayungin Shoal, Scarborough or Panatag Shoal) in the South China Sea.
DFA secretary Del Rosario will be joining the Philippine delegation, led by President Benigno S. Aquino III, at the ASEAN Summit 2014.