“The Philippines welcomes the finalization by ASEAN and China senior officials of the draft of the framework of the Code of Conduct,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said, as it reaffirmed the country’s commitment to working towards an effective COC.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and China completed the draft framework in Guiyang, Guizhou Province in Southwest China after two days of talks that ended Thursday. This is ahead of the mid-2017 goal set by the leaders of ASEAN and China.
The draft framework will be presented to the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and China at their Post-Ministerial Conference in Manila in August 2017 for their consideration.
Acting Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Robespierre Bolivar said ASEAN members and China agreed on the final draft of the framework, basically an outline, for the code of conduct.
“The issue of the nature of the COC will be discussed when negotiations on the actual COC begin - which is after the framework is approved by the Leaders in the November Summit in the Philippines,” he said.
DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said parties completed a binding framework on the code of conduct for the disputed West Philippine Sea/South China Sea.
“Many, many countries wanted it to be legally binding. But I’m saying let’s start with it being binding, gentlemen’s agreement. We have community of nations which signed,” Cayetano told reporters.
He explained that binding framework contains “word and commitment” of country to country.
Cayetano also assured that main issues will eventually form part of the consultation.
“Initially, it is really building of mutual trust. Eventually, that’s the main issue, who owns the territory, entitlements, applicable law,” he added.
Several countries have made competing claims over the West Philippine Sea, including China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.