Marcos calls for early conclusion of Code of Conduct in South China Sea

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Photo from the Office of the Press Secretary/Twitter

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 11) — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Friday pushed for the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

Speaking at the 25th ASEAN-China Summit, Marcos said the immediate conclusion of the COC becomes more relevant as nations mark 40 and 20 years of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), respectively.

He also said it is vital that the UNCLOS continues to be upheld as the universal framework in all activities in the oceans and seas.

"It shall be an example of how states manage their differences: through reason and through right. I, therefore, welcome the progress on textual negotiations on the COC this past year and hopefully an approved Code of Conduct in the very near future," the chief executive said.

According to reports, ASEAN and China were already working on the second draft of the COC in the South China Sea last October.

Early this year, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also sought the early conclusion of an "effective and substantive" COC that does not exclude any country. 

On the other hand, Marcos' Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for ASEAN Affairs Daniel Espiritu in July suggested a "more flexible" approach in the negotiations, meaning asserting UNCLOS without necessarily invoking the Hague ruling. 

The 2016 arbitral ruling in the Hague is a historic win for the country as it ruled in favor of the Philippines against China in the South China Sea row. 

Beijing has since rejected the ruling and still claiming its "historic rights" to resource areas under its nine-dash line over the contested waters.