Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. | Photo by Department of Foreign Affairs via Wikimedia Commons
WASHINGTON D.C. – During a working lunch hosted by U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the ASEAN leaders and other members of the U.S. Congress, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. underscored the U.S.’s role as the Philippines’ “most vocal partner” in reaffirming the 2016 arbitral ruling that the Philippines won over China.
“We deeply appreciate that. We most certainly welcome the U.S. Senate’s call for a common ASEAN approach to reaffirm the Award,” Locsin said.
Five members of the Arbitral Tribunal Constituted Under Annex VII of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea issued the arbitral award or judgment on July 12, 2016. The court membership included Thomas A. Mensah, the presiding arbitrator; Jean-Pierre Cot (France), Rüdiger Wolfrum (Germany), Alfred H. Soons (Netherlands), and Stanislaw Pawlak (Poland).
On July 13, 2020, then-U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo issued a statement on the South China Sea declaring that “Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.” His statement aligned the U.S. position on China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea with the 2016 tribunal arbitral ruling that declared this claim as inconsistent with the UNCLOS.
Locsin also welcomed the U.S. Senate’s support for ASEAN’s efforts to address maritime and territorial disputes through peaceful, diplomatic, and dispute resolution mechanisms consistent with international law.
He also thanked the U.S. Senate for Senate Resolution 616, expressing support for ASEAN and the ASEAN-U.S. Special Summit reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to stay a strong, reliable, and active partner in the ASEAN region, saying “that commitment is much needed now.”
On another note, Locsin stressed the Philippines’ firm position regarding the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“There are many ways to govern a country, but only one way to treat people. It is the lack of decency on the attack on Ukraine why we voted yes to the UN General Assembly resolution and expressed explicit condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine. And we are one with ASEAN in the three statements it issued expressing grave concern over the hostilities, calling for a ceasefire, and on the killing of civilians,” he said.
Also present in the luncheon meeting were House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-23rd District-CA), House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-41st District-CA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-5th District-NY), Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ), SFRC Ranking Member James Risch (R-ID) and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
-With Ricky Rillera/PDM