Philippines urged: Set tone on sea row

By Jaime Laude

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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government and its new political leadership have been urged to stand firm on their position once they obtain a favorable ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in a maritime case Manila filed against China.

Private think tank Stratbase ADR Institute said the Philippines should immediately set the tone of what is to be followed by all countries with claims in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.

“The Philippines should continue to advocate the adherence by all states, including China, to the terms of the ruling and all claimants should avoid any activity that could worsen tensions in the region,” Stratbase ADR Institute president Dindo Manhit said in yesterday’s forum on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Manhit said the next administration could pursue its claim in the West Philippine Sea while still improving the country’s economic relationship with Beijing.

“Developing a credible defense posture in the region should be seen as a complement to the strategic deterrence provided by the US and partnerships with Japan and Australia,” he said.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute senior analyst Lisa Sharland said the EDCA does not only underscore American involvement in the region, but also serves as a reminder of the value of other partnerships for the Philippines.

“Australia and the Philippines will work together to develop architecture supportive of security stability and cooperation. They will form confidence-building measures to minimize the risk of conflict in the region,” Sharland said.

The arbitral decision will serve as a test for the Duterte administration, not only on the international rule of law, but also on diplomacy and communication. – With Victor Martin

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