The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in a statement, has expresses deep concern over the reported sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the South China Sea on April 3.
“Our own similar experience revealed how much trust in a friendship is lost by it; and how much trust was created by Vietnam’s humanitarian act of directly saving the lives of our Filipino fishermen. We have not stopped and will not stop thanking Vietnam. It is with that in mind that we issue this statement of solidarity,” the DFA said.
It also noted that given the positive momentum on the discussions on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), it is crucial that such incidents be avoided and that differences be addressed in a manner that enhances dialogue and mutual trust.
“The continued strengthening of regional relations is especially critical in light of the ASEAN-China joint commitment to collectively tackle the ongoing crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, as declared in the Statement of the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), issued on 20 February 2020,” DFA said.
“There is never a good time to indulge in provocations; they usually end in defeat of aggression or a devastating price of victory. But it is always a good time to rise in the defense and affirmation of our respective sovereignties and in the peace and stability of our region especially in a time of pandemic. As we have said the creation of new facts in the water will never give rise to legal right anywhere or anytime. We therefore urge forbearance and good behavior to each and every government; and to extend that forbearance and behavior to people under our respective jurisdictions,” the DFA added.
Finally, it said that “COVID-19 is a very real threat that demands unity and mutual trust. In the face of it, neither fish nor fictional historical claims are worth the fuse that’s lit by such incidents.”