President Aquino seeks support of India, U.N. member nations in sea dispute


NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar, Nov 13 — President Benigno S. Aquino III has sought the support of India and other members of the United Nations in easing tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

The President made the appeal in his intervention during the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India Summit held at the Sapphire Hall of the Myanmar International Convention Centre here on Wednesday.

“He (President Aquino) sought the support of India and other United Nations member nations for the Philippines’ ‘proposal to reduce the rising level of tensions’ in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea that was presented at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly last October,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement following the summit.

President Aquino cited the recently concluded Bay of Bengal Maritime Boundary Arbitration between India and Bangladesh as “a good example” that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea “provide the most rational, just and right mechanism for countries to find harmony and understanding in the face of their differences”.

Tensions between the Philippines and China have escalated in recent years, as Beijing has aggressively pressed its claim over resource-rich islands in the South China Sea, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippine government has opted to resolve the conflict through diplomatic and legal means by filing an arbitration case before a United Nations tribunal, which China has refused to recognize.

During the summit, President Aquino congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his recent election as leader of the second most populous country in the world.

He also signified the Philippines’ interest to work with India in promoting its proposal to establish an ASEAN-India task force on maritime connectivity. (PCOO/PND)