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19/05/2013: Cuisia: Manila will Work with US, Other Countries to Ensure Freedom of Navigation in South China Sea

PRESS RELEASE
WDC-054-2013
19 May 2013

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia—The Philippines will continue to work with the United States and other countries to guarantee freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia said.

“It is essential that the Philippines works with other countries to guarantee freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, where an estimated $1.3 trillion in US trade flows through annually,” Ambassador Cuisia told the Annual Meeting of the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads here on Friday.

“Over the past two years, the whole world has seen the increase in belligerent activity in the waters in our part of the world, particularly in the areas in and around the West Philippine Sea,” Ambassador Cuisia said. “When another country declares that it owns about 75 percent of what the Philippines owns as exclusive economic zone, we are duty bound to stand up and protect it.”

“When another country stations its boats on a shoal that is a mere 120 miles from our mainland and more than 400 miles from theirs, the Philippines cannot just keep quiet,” Ambassador Cuisia said, adding that it has become more imperative for Manila to build a minimum credible defense posture, to serve as deterrent to any aggressive action that may be taken against the Philippines.

In addition, Ambassador Cuisia said the Philippines has initiated arbitral procedures against China based on both countries’ common obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). He said the Philippines is also working with the rest of ASEAN for a legally binding Code of Conduct for the South China Sea.

“We have made it clear that we are equally committed to both processes, as we view them as complimentary and mutually reinforcing undertakings,” he said, adding that efforts to move the Code of Conduct shall be at the front and center of the ASEAN Summit in Brunei.

In his remarks, Ambassador Cuisia also discussed Washington’s rebalancing towards Asia. “More than a policy decision, this is actually a strategic imperative, as the Asia Pacific region has become the nexus of the world’s most dynamic of opportunities, and the most intransigent of challenges,” he said.

“The Philippines welcomes this rebalancing, and as a treaty ally, recognizes and accepts our important role in this rebalance. We are working closely with the United States, our country’s only treaty ally, on mechanisms that will ensure that our security arrangements remain relevant and mutually beneficial,” he said.

“We are looking at opportunities for assistance in training, capacity building and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. We have also agreed to work more closely together to enhance the economic dimension of the US rebalancing,” he added.

During his visit to Virginia Beach, Ambassador Cuisia also had the opportunity to visit the USS Wasp (LHD 1), a multipurpose amphibious assault ship, at the nearby Norfolk Naval Station.

The Commanding Officer of the USS Wasp, Capt. Gary Boardman, welcomed the Ambassador and officers of the Philippine Embassy and gave them a tour of the vessel. They were also able to meet with Filipino-American officers and crewmembers. ###

PHOTO RELEASE
WDC-087-2013
19 May 2013

Aboard the USS Wasp. Capt. Gary Boardman, commanding officer of the USS Wasp (LHD 1), and members of his crew salute as Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. disembarks from the multipurpose amphibious assault vessel after a visit to the Norfolk Naval Station on Friday. The Ambassador was given a tour of the ship and met with Filipino-American officers and crew members. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Elmer G. Cato)

PHOTO RELEASE
WDC-088-2013
19 May 2013

Aboard the USS Wasp. Capt. Gary Boardman, commanding officer of the USS Wasp (LHD 1), and members of his crew salute as Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. disembarks from the multipurpose amphibious assault vessel after a visit to the Norfolk Naval Station on Friday. The Ambassador was given a tour of the ship and met with Filipino-American officers and crew members. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Elmer G. Cato)

PHOTO RELEASE
WDC-089-2013
19 May 2013

Annual Meeting. Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. delivers his remarks during the Annual Meeting of the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Elmer G. Cato)