MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr urged the the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to support a historic ruling against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Yasay said it "is a clearly established fact" that this ruling by an arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, is "final and binding to all parties concerned," according to a statement by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday, July 25.
He added that it has "significant implications for the entire region, not just the coastal states bordering the South China Sea."
The DFA explained: "Secretary Yasay said an ASEAN statement supporting the legal and diplomatic processes being pursued by the Philippines toward the peaceful resolution of the dispute, without taking sides, would not only reflect ASEAN acknowledgment and respect for a rules-based order, but also will reaffirm ASEAN’s 'centrality and solidarity in the regional security architecture that would enhance ASEAN’s voice and growing influence in the international community.'"
Yasay said, "The decision has provided a solid legal foundation on which a rules-based approach for resolving disputes in the South China Sea can be built."
The Philippine foreign secretary also pointed out that the ruling upholds international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982.
"The ruling can move the dispute-settlement process forward," Yasay said.
"The Philippines strongly affirms its respect for this milestone decision as an important contribution to ongoing efforts in addressing disputes in the South China Sea," he added.
Without an international police to enforce the ruling, experts cite the need for other countries to support it.
The Philippines' lead counsel against China, Paul Reichler, earlier said that enforcement "will depend on the conduct of other affected states and the international community in general." (READ: How to enforce Hague ruling? PH lead counsel explains)
International pressure is seen as a way to force Beijing the eventually heed the ruling. (READ: 'Game of diplomats' begins in West Philippine Sea)
China, however, has consistently rejected third-party involvement in the sea dispute. Instead it seeks bilateral or one-on-one talks with the countries involved. – Rappler.com
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 email@example.com.