Malacanang verifying report on China-US face-off at WPS (Business Mirror (Philippines))

MALACANANG is verifying the full details of the latest Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef incident reported by Cable News Network (CNN), where Chinese military repeatedly warned a US Navy P-3 Orion aircraft to go away.

This developed as Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. on Friday said the Philippine government stands fast on its diplomatic track to pursue its case against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

Coloma added that the Aquino administration is also prodding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to adopt a legally binding Code of Conduct (COC) covering all claimants in disputed territories.

In a news briefing, the Palace official acknowledged that the CNN report indicates the stark reality of heightening tension caused by illegal Chinese reclamations and Beijing’s nine-dash line claiming almost the entire West Philippines Sea (WPS, South China Sea).

He expects that discussions in Tokyo last year-where all Asean members rejected Chinese notion of imposing an air-defense identification zone in both East and South China Sea-would soon be revived.

Coloma asserted it is not just freedom of navigation, but also freedom of aviation, that affects global commerce.

Kailangang beripikahin ang mga ulat sa media hinggil sa umano’y naganap na insidente na kinasasangkutan ng isang eroplano ng Estados Unidos sa South China Sea, he told Palace reporters at a briefing on Friday.

Coloma added: Gayunpaman, nagiging matingkad ang reyalidad ng pagkakaroon ng tensyon bunsod ng isinasagawang reclamation activities, at ng patuloy na paggamit ng teoryang nine-dash line sa kabila ng malinaw na isinasaad sa United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Reiterating earlier assurances, Coloma told reporters the Aquino administration is committed to abide by the Unclos. Patuloy na tatalima ang Pilipinas sa Unclos at sa diwa ng Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, at patuloy din po tayong makikipag-ugnayan sa mga miyembro ng Asean sa prinsipyo ng Asean centrality at sa paghubog ng isang legally binding Code of Conduct.

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