ASEAN foreign ministers endorse COC framework on South China Sea

MANILA — Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Saturday formally endorsed the framework of the code of conduct (COC) to address disputes in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea for eventual adoption by the regional grouping and China.

Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) acting Spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said the framework COC is expected to be adopted at the ASEAN China Ministerial Meeting slated here on Aug. 6.

“So far as far as I know the consensus in Asean is at the very least the code of conduct that is to be negotiated still, that the negotiations that will happen in the next few months or years should produce a substantive and effective code of conduct,” he said in a press briefing.

Bolivar stressed the Philippines preferred a “legally binding” and effective code of conduct which all parties would observe and adhere to.

He said the COC framework was a major step towards the realization of an effective code.

“That is more strategic goal of the ASEAN,” he added.

Foreign ministers from 27 countries gather here for the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings from Aug. 2 to 8. Leslie Venzon/