By Charissa Luci
House leaders rallied behind the proposed “gentleman’s agreement” between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to ensure stable and peaceful West Philippine Sea on Sunday, May 21.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, chairman of the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries, cited the Duterte government’s efforts in pursuing a ‘peaceful’ strategy that would ensure peace and stability in the region after the ASEAN and China finished a draft framework for negotiating a code of conduct (COC).
“Secretary (Alan Peter) Cayetano’s proposal is laudable to ensure peace and stability and development in the region. The adoption of code is conduct is very essential in ensuring freedom of navigation,” he said.
Cayetano said they would pursue a strategy that would guarantee the peaceful conduct of addressing the conflict following the absence of legally binding mechanism or the code of conduct.
For his part, House Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu said all claimant-countries should pursue peaceful resolution, adding that war is not an option.
“Any proposal that would keep us from war and will make the situation stable is a welcome development. Let us take advantage of the friendly atmosphere right now and the good relationship of President Duterte with Chinese leaders,” he said.
Cayetano cited the need for ASEAN and China to come up with a mechanism that would help resolve issues should some parties parties refuse or fail to comply with the code.