In the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has maintained position to firmly reject misleading narratives that frame the disputes in the South China Sea solely through the lens of strategic competition between two peaceful countries as this not only denies us our independence and agency, but alos disregards our own legitimate interests. (Photo from PCO)

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. reiterated the Philippines’ commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes with regard to the South China Sea on Tuesday, during the 43rd ASEAN Summit Retreat in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“History will ultimately judge whether the supremacy of the rule of law prevails, ushering in an era where all nations truly stand as equals, independent and unswayed by any single power. The challenge for us remains: that we should never allow the international order to be subjected to the forces of might applied for a hegemonic ambition,” Marcos said in his intervention before the ASEAN leaders.

Marcos said that the Philippines remains committed to continue working with all countries to foster a rules-based international order, as well as in upholding and exercising freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

He stated that the Philippines would not seek conflict but would always rise to meet challenges to its sovereignty, sovereign rights, and maritime jurisdiction in the South China Sea.

“The Philippines firmly rejects misleading narratives that frame the disputes in the South China Sea solely through the lens of strategic competition between two powerful countries. This not only denies us of our independence and agency, but also disregards our own legitimate interests,” Marcos said.

The president called for self-restraint on activities that complicate disputes in the region and undermine regional peace, stability, and security, underscoring that actions, not words, should be the ultimate measure of their commitment to securing peace and stability.

“We therefore seek your support for the operationalization of practical measures such as the ADMM Guidelines for Maritime Interaction, which we envision will be expanded to our external partners in due time,” Marcos said.

“The Philippines is also pleased to have hosted the 2nd ASEAN Multilateral Naval Exercise (AMNEX) off Zambales and Bataan, and the 40th Meeting of the JWG-DOC2 in Manila to expedite the negotiations for a substantive and effective Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.”

The need for all parties involved is to leverage on the ASEAN regional architecture to serve as a diplomatic bridge that promotes mutual understanding, strategic trust, and peaceful settlement of disputes, he added.

Marcos warned that as tensions and mistrust between the great powers escalate, so does the prospect of miscalculation that could threaten to engulf the region, with severe consequences for all.