Tuesday, July 24, 2012

'What Really Happened at ASEAN'

Manila Bulletin published this article on July 19, 2012 (National News, page 6). It can also be accessed at: http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/366635/what-really-happened-at-asean

The failure to issue the customary Joint Communique in the recently concluded 45th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia generated “grave misimpressions from people who were not present during those meetings” that need to be corrected, according to Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Erlinda F. Basilio.
Basilio was part of the Philippine delegation to seek unified support of ASEAN member nations on the prevailing territorial disputes on the West Philippine Sea.
“I hope to present the real picture during the Ministerial Meeting from the point of view of a Filipino,” Basilio wrote in her article ‘Why There Was No ASEAN Joint Communiqué,’ which presented 10 fictions with corresponding facts based on what transpired during the discussions. “Many of those reactions/commentaries were based on erroneous information. It is therefore essential to lay down the facts.”
ASEAN’s failure to agree with the proposed Code of Conduct on the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), DFA’s denouncement on China’s “duplicity and intimidation,” and the alleged move of the Philippines to escalate the matter to the entire ASEAN community for support were among the fictional issues cited in the article.
“The Philippines has been approaching the issue with patience and tolerance as we endeavor to avail ourselves of all peaceful means to resolve it in accordance with the rule of law,” Basilio said.
DFA assured that the Philippines has been conducting bilateral consultations with its partners and has actually proposed a framework to resolve the issue on the West Philippine Sea.
In one of the highlights of the article, Basilio contested the allegation that “the Philippines bitterly accused Cambodia of doing Beijing’s bidding [on the disputed territories].”
“We did accuse Cambodia of doing Beijing’s bidding, choosing to remain silent [while] other quarters preferred [otherwise],” she said.
Basilio also emphasized that the Philippines has long been patient in peacefully advancing its interest in the West Philippine Sea with China “as a friend and a partner” using DFA’s three-track approach, namely, political, diplomatic, and legal.

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