In UN vote, PH rejects Crimea referendum

Paterno Esmaquel II
The Philippines joins 99 other nations in an overwhelming vote to support Ukraine on the Crimean issue

UKRAINE'S APPEAL. Andrii Deshchytsia, acting minister for foreign affairs of Ukraine, addresses the United Nations General Assembly on March 27, 2014, when it voted against Crimea's referendum. Photo courtesy of the United Nations

MANILA, Philippines – In an issue that hits close to home, the Philippines joined 99 other countries in rejecting Crimea’s decision to break away from Ukraine and join Russia, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

“The Philippines voted to support the United Nations (UN) General Assembly Resolution on Ukraine based on its principled position on sovereignty, territorial integrity, rule of law, and peaceful settlement of disputes,” the DFA said in a statement Friday, March 28.

“The Philippines likewise calls on all parties to respect the UN Charter and international law,” it added.

The UN General Assembly voted on Thursday, March 27, to adopt a Western-backed resolution that declares Crimea’s breakaway referendum illegitimate. It also refuses to recognize Russia’s annexation of the peninsula.

The non-binding resolution passed with a comfortable majority in the 193-member body, with 100 votes in favor and 11 votes against. More than 20 countries, including China, did not vote.

Ukraine, which drafted the resolution, had urged the international community to back the text, hoping an overwhelming show of support would ward off further Russian intervention in its territory.

Miriam: Stay neutral

Earlier, DFA spokesman Charles Jose likened the Crimea issue to the Philippines’ dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“We are advocating the same principles, the rule of law, peaceful settlement of disputes, territorial integrity, so these are the same principles that we are advocating with regard to the West Philippine Sea issue,” Jose explained.

The dispute over Crimea erupted as the Philippines prepares to submit its memorial, or written pleading, against China over the West Philippine Sea. (READ: PH readies ‘convincing evidence’ vs China and China warns PH about further damage to ties)

Earlier, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago took a different view on the Crimea issue. She said the “better part of prudence dictates that we must leave for the moment the question of whether we shall recognize Crimea.” (READ: Miriam: PH should be neutral on Crimea)

In any case, the DFA said, “The Philippines remains deeply concerned with developments in Crimea and hopes for a diplomatic solution.” – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.