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Monday, February 26, 2024

Rules-based operations

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Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro has spoken.

That all operations being carried out by the Philippines in its maritime territories, including those of the West Philippine Sea, are rules-based.

“We are merely asserting our rights which the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and relevant Philippine laws secure to us and these operations are done within areas where the Philippine government has every right to operate,” Teodoro said the other day in Floridablanca, Pampanga.

The DND chief said Manila is not looking for conflict by asserting these rights, apparently in reference to current efforts to resupply its detachments and sovereignty patrols in the West Philippine Sea.

“And that is simply what we are doing and, in such a case, not only the United States but other governments have chimed in the chorus in support of the Philippine government; the reason is simple that the Philippine government’s operations are based on rules-based international order, international law and the UNCLOS. so I think we are asserting the same thing and that is the predicate on which not only the United States but several other countries operate with us in this area,” he added.

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Teodoro earlier said the Philippines would continue with its operations to uphold sovereignty in the WPS in a “balanced” manner in anticipation of increasing harassment from China.

He said any activity in the WPS, including the next resupply missions, would be crafted carefully to avoid increasing tensions or conflict and stressed that these would be done to uphold the best interest of the country.

But what does the term ‘rules-based order’ mean as a concept developed by political scientists and politicians?

Experts are one in saying it blurs the distinction between binding and non-binding rules, giving the impression all states and international actors are subject to this order, irrespective of whether or not they have consented to these rules.

There is the rules-based international system or RBIS, founded on relationships among states and through international institutions and frameworks, with shared rules and agreements on behavior.

The rules-based term is founded on a liberal international order, ‘based on principles of democratic governance, the protection of individual rights, economic openness and the rule of law’ and is characterized by equality, human rights, freedom, multilateralism, free movement of goods, and collective security.

The Philippines signed the UNCLOS on Dec 10, 1982 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, with the convention entering into force for the Philippines on Nov 16, 1994.

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