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Joint patrols pushed for Spratly Islands

SEN. Imee Marcos has proposed joint patrols among claimants in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea — which include the Philippines — to ease tensions in the region.

The senator was asked in a radio interview over the weekend about the need to elevate the territorial dispute to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

«The ones that should conduct joint patrols [in the South China Sea] are the claimants to avoid conflict [in the region],» Marcos said.

Some claimants in the Spratlys, believed to be rich in gas and mineral deposits, are Asean members, such as Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The other claimants are China and Taiwan. Beijing claims almost all of the SCS, including the exclusive economic zones of several of the claimants.

«That is possible. I believe in that [proposal],» said Marcos in Filipino on Sunday.

She noted that the proposed Code of Conduct in the SCS has been «pending for decades.»


Marcos said «all claimants should sit down and agree what are the non-negotiables.»

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in January said Indonesia was ready to work with all Asean member states to finalize the Code of Conduct «as soon as possible.»

In December 2023, the Asean foreign ministers expressed concern over recent developments in the South China Sea that «may undermine» peace, security and stability in the region.

The Asean leaders, in a joint statement shared by the Department of Foreign Affairs, said they «closely follow with concern» the recent developments in the SCS.


They did not specify these developments, but Philippine officials have accused the China Coast Guard of harassing Philippine vessels on regular supply missions to Filipino fishermen in the Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal and troops in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

China insists that these maritime features are part of its territory, despite a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration that found its territorial claims had no basis.

«We recognize the benefits of having the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability, cooperation and prosperity,» the Asean leaders said.

«We reaffirm our unity