Philippines, EU to strengthen maritime security ties
MANILA, Philippines — The European Union is ready to work with the Philippines to strengthen maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday, as she renewed the EU’s support for Manila’s 2016 arbitral victory against Beijing over the South China Sea issue.
Von der Leyen met with President Marcos at Malacañang yesterday morning. It was the first ever visit of an EC president to the Philippines. Her visit ends today.
The two leaders met during the EU-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in Brussels, Belgium in December 2022.
In a speech following her bilateral meeting with Marcos, Von der Leyen said the EU has been very supportive of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“Because an Indo-Pacific free of the threats of coercion is key to all our stability to our peace, and to the prosperity of our people,” she said.
“The European Union underlines that the 2016 award of the arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea is legally binding, and that it provides the basis for peacefully resolving disputes between the parties,” Von der Leyen said.
China continues to ignore the July 12, 2016 ruling of The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, which affirmed the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea and nullified Beijing’s claims over almost the entire South China Sea.
“We are ready to strengthen the cooperation with the Philippines on maritime security in the region by sharing
information, conducting threat assessment and building the capacity of your national CoastWatch center and your Coast Guard,” von der Leyen said.
She said security cooperation is imperative, as the global geopolitical landscape has become “volatile” and “more threatening.”
She said authoritarian leaders have shown readiness to act on their threats, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which she said “shakes the foundation of the international order.”
“It is in violation of the UN Charter and the fundamental principles of international law, such as territorial integrity and sovereignty. And this is why Europe supports Ukraine’s brave fight against the aggressor. Because the illegal use of force cannot be tolerated, not in Ukraine, not in the Indo-Pacific,” she said.
Von der Leyen noted that security in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific is indivisible.
“Challenges to the rules based order in our interconnected world affect all of us. Our societies pay through higher energy bills through higher food costs. This is why we are concerned about the rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific,” she said.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier agreed on Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano’s proposal to hold a caucus to discuss a resolution authored by Sen. Risa Hontiveros urging the government to call out Beijing’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Marcos, in an interview with Philippine media in Kuala Lumpur on July 27, however, appeared not inclined to bring the West Philippine Sea issue before the UNGA.
“I mean of course the senator (Hontiveros) is free to file whatever resolution she wants but I do not know how that would translate to any action that will reach the United Nations General Assembly,” Marcos said.
The Philippines, under the administration of Marcos, has filed a total of 97 diplomatic protests against China’s presence and activities in the West Philippine Sea, including 30 lodged this year, the Department of Foreign Affairs had said.
Since Marcos assumed office, the Philippines has filed 67 notes verbale and 30 diplomatic notes.
Source: Philstar Global