PH to work with partners to uphold rules-based order in Indo-Pacific region – DFA chief

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DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo (file photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) — The Philippines will work with all its partners to ensure peace, stability and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said, amid Manila's territorial row with Beijing in the West Philippine Sea.

"The Philippines remains committed to collaborating with all our partners to ensure that the rules-based order, which has served as the bedrock of international peace and stability for decades, is upheld," Manalo said in his opening remarks during his meeting with the diplomatic press corps on Thursday.

He said it is "imperative to acknowledge" the rules-based order as the bedrock of stability amid a multitude of existing and emerging challenges faced by the Philippines and the Indo-Pacific region.

"The Philippines has actively engaged with the international community, advocating for increased collaboration in building a prosperous, peaceful, equitable future," Manalo said.

In his recent visit to Tokyo, the DFA chief said the repeated infringements and incursions in the West Philippine Sea prompted the Philippines to move closer to its allies and enhance its defense capabilities.

"Nevertheless, repeated infringements on our sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, and other destabilizing actions that go against international law necessitate the enhancement of our defense capabilities," Manalo said in a separate speech.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier stressed that disengagement with China is not an option amid conflicts in the West Philippine Sea.

Marcos said on May 5 that the Philippine government will continue to engage with China and will continue to keep communication lines open.

RELATED: Marcos on PH-China relations: 'Disengagement not an option'

As of April, the Philippine government has filed 87 diplomatic protests against Beijing under the Marcos administration.

China remains consistent in its position not to recognize the 2016 arbitral ruling which debunked its nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.

Both Manila and Beijing however emphasized that maritime issues are not the "sum total" of the two countries' bilateral ties.