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DFA: Code of conduct for South China Sea framework may not mention arbitral ruling

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling invalidating China's nine-dash line claim over South China Sea may not be mentioned at all in the framework for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China's code of conduct (COC) on the disputed maritime region.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar told reporters in Malacañang that the framework COC on the South China Sea would be just an outline.

"I haven’t seen the actual, to tell you honestly, but the general headings, kumbaga parang balangkas, it's an outline, the nature of the code of conduct, what principles govern the behaviors of [the nations]. I would think it’s something more generic so there’s no specific mention [of the arbitral ruling]," he said after his briefing. 

Bolivar said that the actual talks on the COC would begin, at the earliest, after the foreign ministers endorse the framework, where the arbitral ruling could be raised.

"Anything to our interest, of course, we will push," he said.

But he pointed out that other countries in the region were also involved in the actual talks.

"Now what we’re trying to achieve is more than just binding, it’s an effective code of conduct. 'Yung talagang irerespeto at susundin ng lahat. We’re hopeful, because of the commitment between the ASEAN and China, na unang-una, we finish the framework ahead of time," he said.

"It’s supposed to be sometime this year pa, pero it was finalized in May, although for endorsement pa ng mga minister. So may momentum, so we’re hoping na it will carry over to the actual talks on the code of conduct," he added.

Aside from the framework, foreign ministers will also sign several documents after the weeklong ASEAN Ministerial Meeting including Joint Communiqué and another on the extension of the ASEAN-China Centre as well as the chairman statements for the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the various Post-Ministerial Conferences, the ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and the ASEAN Regional Forum. — MDM, GMA News