Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo has received the commemorative stamp marking the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the landmark convention that was the basis of the Philippines’ arbitral win over China.
The stamp was issued by the Philippine Postal Corp. (PhilPost) days after a fire gutted the historic Manila Central Post Office.
“Grateful to receive the commemorative stamp honoring the 40th anniversary of UNCLOS, especially in the aftermath of the devastating fire that engulfed @PostOfficePH,” the country’s top diplomat said on Twitter.
“This symbolic gesture reaffirms PH commitment to #UNCLOS & serves as a reminder of the resilience of our postal service,” he added. Rey E. Requejo and Maricel V. Cruz
Meanwhile, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte on Thursday expressed hope that the impending joint maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) by the Philippines and the United States will evolve into a multilateral security arrangement with like-minded allies like Australia and Japan.
“A multilateral maritime security setup in the WPS involving Australia and more allies other than the US has become a probability following last week’s elevation of Manila-Canberra defense and economic ties from a comprehensive to a strategic partnership, in support of a stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific Region,” Villafuerte, president of the National Unity Party, said.
Manalo’s post was accompanied by a photo of him holding the framed commemorative stamp with the words, “UNCLOS @ 40.”
Known as the “constitution of the oceans,” UNCLOS was the foundation of the 2016 Hague ruling that invalidated China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea.
The Philippines, led by then-Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario during the Aquino III administration, took Beijing to the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration and won the monumental arbitration case that empowered nations to call on China to cease its aggressive actions in the resource-rich region.
A strong backer of joint patrols in the WPS to check Beijing’s increasingly aggressive incursions into our legitimate territory and exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Villafuerte is bullish about the inclusion of Australia in the planned joint WPS patrols involving the US and the Philippines.
Visiting Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong conveyed last May 18 that Canberra is open to cooperation with the Philippines on ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight in the Indo-Pacific region.
“There are clear signs indeed that joint maritime patrols in Philippine waters with the US, and possibly with other like-minded allies like Australia and Japan that are aspiring for a stable and peaceful Indo-Pacific region, are happening sooner than later against the backdrop of incessant, increasingly aggressive incursions by Chinese vessels into our territory and EEZ,” Villafuerte said.
He noted that during a courtesy call in Malacañan Palace last Thursday, Wong had informed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. about the commitment of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Norman Albanese to enhance ties to a strategic partnership between the two countries.
For his part, President Marcos said during the courtesy call by Wong that amid the current situation, security partnerships have “become extremely important and it might be the key to maintaining the peace not only in the Asia Pacific but the Indo-Pacific region.”
Villafuerte added there is a better chance that Japan might take part in the planned joint patrols.
The DFA’s Manalo himself said last week that trilateral military cooperation among Manila, Canberra and Tokyo “are certainly under consideration.”
“We look forward to discussing with Australia and our other partners, Japan, and even with perhaps the US, on possible modes of cooperation … we are certainly planning to take forward these discussions in the very near future,” the Foreign Affairs chief said