By Audrey Morallo
Manila, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday refused to directly say that the arbitral ruling in the South China Sea would be considered in the drafting of a code of conduct among parties to the dispute.
Speaking at a press conference at the DFA office in Manila, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo also expressed optimism that a code of conduct could be achieved after parties to the dispute agree on a draft of the framework.
When asked if the July 2016 arbitration ruling would be considered in the discussions on a code of conduct, Manalo said that the DFA is treading carefully.
“We are going on this very carefully, the code of conduct. We’re starting off with a framework and we’re a looking at broad topics. The details will have to be negotiated,” he said.
Manalo said that the draft of the framework of the code of conduct could serve as the basis of the negotiations of countries that have overlapping claims in the South China Sea on the actual code of conduct.
“It’s not the draft of the code of conduct. It’s the draft of the framework of the code of conduct. It’s just the first draft. The significance of this draft is if we can get a framework on the code of conduct it will be a basis then to proceed on the actual negotiations of the code of conduct,” Manalo said.
He said that this was positive development considering that parties do not even have any framework or outline of the code on paper yet
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