September 5, 2023
“The Philippines firmly rejects misleading narratives that frame the disputes in the South China Sea solely through the lens of strategic competition between two powerful countries. This not only denies us our independence and agency, but also disregards our own legitimate interests,” President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. declared when he delivered his Intervention during the 43rd ASEAN Summit Retreat Session at the Jakarta Convention Center in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The President called upon all parties for self-restraint on activities that complicate disputes in the South China Sea, reiterating that ASEAN must not undermine regional peace, stability and security.
“We cannot emphasize enough that actions, not words, should be the ultimate measure of our commitment to securing peace and stability in the South China Sea. Anything else simply does not suffice,” he reiterated, urging Leaders to cooperate for tangible solutions in settling the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
“We therefore seek your support for the operationalization of practical measures such as the ADMM Guidelines for Maritime Interaction, which we envision will be expanded to our external partners in due time,” he said.
The ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Guidelines for Maritime Interaction is a joint declaration where ASEAN Defense Ministers agreed to ‘undertake practical measures such as protocols of interaction and direct communication channels to reduce vulnerability to miscalculations and to avoid misunderstanding and undesirable incidents at sea’ during the 9th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) in 2015.
The Ministers also agreed to ‘practice and observe international protocols such as Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) and commence work on crafting protocols of interaction to maintain open communications to avoid misunderstanding and prevent undesirable incidents’ as reflected in the 2016 ADMM Joint Declaration, among others.
President Marcos Jr. also mentioned the Philippines’ maritime collaborations by citing the 2nd ASEAN Multilateral Naval Exercise (AMNEX) off Zambales and Bataan, as well as the 40th Joint Working Group on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (JWG-DOC) in Manila. These collaborations aim to expedite the negotiations for a substantive and effective Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.
“It is imperative that we leverage the ASEAN regional architecture to serve as a diplomatic bridge that promises mutual understanding, strategic trust and peaceful settlement of disputes,” he added.
“The challenge for us remains: that we must never allow the international peaceful order to be subjected to the forces of might applied hegemonic ambition,” President Marcos Jr. said in closing his Intervention.