Duterte 'disappointed' with slow pace of negotiations for a Code of Conduct in South China Sea – Palace

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President Rodrigo Duterte (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 23) — President Rodrigo Duterte expressed concern and disappointment with the delay in talks for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea when he faced other Southeast Asian leaders at a summit in Thailand on Sunday.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo said Duterte warned the 10-member Association of Southeat Asian Nations that "the longer the delay for an early conclusion of the COC, the higher the probability of maritime incidents happening." He stressed that there would also be a higher probability for "miscalculations that may spiral out of control."

The President raised the red flag after a Chinese vessel rammed into a Filipino fishing boat near Recto Bank on June 9. The 22 Filipino fishermen on board were left adrift at sea and survived only because a Vietnamese boat came to their rescue.

Duterte's statement before the regional bloc showed that the chief executive was not beholden to any country. Duterte has long been criticized for his warm ties with China which has been aggressively militarizing the South China Sea and encroaching on contested areas there.

"He said that he is confident in articulating in clear and unequivocal terms the position of the Philippines as regards its interests before the global stage," Panelo said.

The Philippines is currently the country coordinator for ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations. Panelo said the Philippines will continue to push for the full implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea — which mandates what claimants can and cannot do in the contested waters.

Panelo said Duterte thanked the captain and crew of the Vietnamese fishing vessel that saved the fishermen.

"He expressed his sincere gratitude to Vietnam through Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc," he said.