01 August 2014
The Philippines joins countries of the region and the international community in calling for urgent action to reduce the rising level of tension in the South China Sea. These tensions have strained relations among countries, increased levels of mistrust, and heightened the dangers of unintended conflict in the region. Therefore, in order to immediately do what is right in accordance with law, the international community must take determined actions to reduce tensions as we urgently work to resolve the dispute in the South China Sea.
In the forthcoming ASEAN meetings in Nay Pyi Taw in August, the Philippines will be discussing its proposal – the Triple Action Plan (TAP) - as a concrete framework to address the escalating tensions in the South China Sea. The TAP was first informally announced by the Philippines in late June 2014 as tensions in the waters off Vietnam heightened due to emplacement of the Chinese Oil Rig HD981.
The Philippines hopes that the Claimant States, other ASEAN countries, and the ASEAN Dialogue Partners will favorably consider this proposal as it is comprehensive, constructive and brings together various initiatives that the Philippines and other countries have been advocating on the issue of the South China Sea for the past years.
Specifically, the TAP contains 1) immediate; 2) intermediate; and 3) final approaches to address the provocative and destabilizing activities in the region without prejudice to existing territorial claims.
As an immediate approach, the TAP calls for a moratorium on specific activities that escalate tension in the South China Sea. This approach brings to fore the need for a more concrete definition of paragraph 5 of the ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea (DOC).
For the intermediate approach, the TAP highlights the need and call for the full and effective implementation of the DOC and the expeditious conclusion of the Code of Conduct.
As a final approach, the TAP underscores the need for settlement mechanism to bring the disputes to a final and enduring resolution anchored on international law. The Philippines is pursuing such a resolution through Arbitration and believes that the Arbitration award will clarify the maritime entitlements for all parties, which will be the basis for the settlement of maritime disputes. END