National Security (NSC) chief Secretary Eduardo Año (File photo)

National Security (NSC) chief Secretary Eduardo Año said the position taken by the Group of Seven (G7), an intergovernmental organization consisting of seven of the world’s largest advanced economies, against China’s bullying and harassment of Filipino fishermen and troops in the West Philippine Sea is a welcome development for the country’ territorial and sovereign rights.

The NSC said in a statement that the message delivered by G7 countries, composed of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States, during their summit in Apulia, Italy, expressing serious concern and strong opposition to any unilateral attempt to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas by force or coercion, is vital support for the organization for international law and a rules-based international order.

“We appreciate the G7’s explicit condemnation of the increasing use of dangerous maneuvers and water cannons against Philippine vessels. This acknowledgment underscores the international community’s recognition of the threats faced by our nation and reaffirms the importance of upholding the rule of law in maritime disputes,” Año said.

The National Security Adviser reiterated that there is no legal basis for China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, standing in unity with the G7 “in opposing China’s militarization, coercive actions, and intimidation activities in the region.”

He said the principles enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) must be respected, and its role as the legal framework governing all activities in the oceans and seas must be upheld universally.

Furthermore, he stated that the G7’s reiteration of the significance of the 2016 Arbitral Award is a vital reminder that this ruling is legally binding. It serves as a crucial basis for the peaceful resolution of disputes, adding that the Philippines remains committed to working with the international community to ensure peace, stability, and security in the region.

“We look forward to continued collaboration with the G7 and the international community in general in upholding maritime law and ensuring that the South China Sea remains a zone of peace, freedom, and cooperation,” he said.