Territorial integrity, a consideration in PHL’s UN vote on Crimea

By Michaela Del Callar

MANILA, March 26 (PNA) — The Philippines on Wednesday said territorial integrity would be a consideration when it casts its vote Thursday at the United Nations on the issue of Crimea, a peninsula currently disputed by Ukraine and Russia.

A draft resolution on the territorial jurisdiction of Crimea was initiated by Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly and will be voted upon by members, including the Philippines, on March 27.

“The Philippines is studying carefully the matter regarding the U.N. resolution from the point of view of protecting the territorial integrity of a state,” a Department of Foreign Affairs statement said.

It would be a crucial vote for the Philippines, which is locked in decades-long territorial row with China over some territories in the South China China Sea.

A Philippine vote in favor of Ukraine is an affirmation of its long-standing position that that territorial claims must be in accordance with rule of law and not through the use of force.

China claims the waters nearly in its entirety even as it overlaps with the territories of its neighbors like the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan – all claimants to the sprawling oil and gas-rich waters where 40 percent of the world’s trade pass.

China recently sent government vessels in two Filipino-claimed territories – Scarborough Shoal and Ayungin Shoal – as Beijing insists sovereignty over the two features, which government officials say falls within Philippine territory.

The draft resolution, the DFA said, affirms Ukraine’s territorial integrity, political independence, unity and sovereignty and reiterates earlier calls for the peaceful resolution of the situation and de-escalation of tensions.

It also seeks to invalidate the referendum in Crimea, wherein majority of Crimeans voted to breakaway from Ukraine – a decision rejected by the United States, which threatened more sanctions on Russia.

The Philippines, the DFA said, “remains deeply concerned with developments in Crimea and hopes for a diplomatic solution.”

“In this regard, the Philippines takes note of UNGA Resolution 3314 and calls for maximum restraint to be shown by all parties,” the statement said, referring to a non-aggression pact signed by U.N.-member nations in 1974.

“We support actions toward de-escalating tensions in the region and for comprehensive, inclusive and peaceful dialogue and reconciliation, with full respect for the rule of law, to be pursued by all parties.”

The crisis started when former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych sought Russia’s help to quell mounting street protests in Ukraine as demonstrators demand his resignation.

Since then, Russia began occupation of Crimea, sending thousands of troops and taking control of military installations and airports.

Alert level 2 was raised by the Philippines in Ukraine amid heightened tensions and advised the nearly 200 Filipinos, mostly based in Kiev, to prepare for evacuation. (PNA)