SPEAKING WITH AUTHORITY President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his remarks during the virtual plenary session of the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean ) and Related Summits hosted by Vietnam on Nov. 12, 2020. MALACAÑANG PHOTO SPEAKING WITH AUTHORITY President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his remarks during the virtual plenary session of the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean ) and Related Summits hosted by Vietnam on Nov. 12, 2020. MALACAÑANG PHOTO TMT

Duterte defends PH arbitral victory Featured

President Rodrigo Duterte once again invoked the country’s arbitral victory against China in the South China Sea dispute, saying no country, no matter how powerful, should ignore the ruling.

In his speech during the plenary session of the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit on Thursday, Duterte said the arbitral award is an authoritative interpretation of the application of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or Unclos.

“It is now part of international law. And its significance cannot be diminished nor ignored by any country, however big and powerful,” he said.

In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, The Netherlands ruled in favor of the Philippines, which had filed a case contesting China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Last September, Duterte, in his speech before the 75th United Nations General Assembly, said the country would reject attempts to undermine the ruling.

China refuses to acknowledge the ruling.

Duterte said the dispute in the South China Sea must be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international laws.

“As I have said before, the South China Sea issue is Asean’s strategic challenge. How we deal with this matter lays bare our strengths and weaknesses as a community. We must act with haste,” he said.

Duterte called on the Asean to expedite the conclusion of a Code of Conduct (CoC) for the South China Sea.

The CoC is a set of rules for Asean claimant states to avoid conflicts in the disputed waters.

“The Philippines is one with Asean in transforming the South China Sea into a sea of peace and prosperity for all,” the President said.

“We are committed to the immediate conclusion of a substantive and effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. And if I may add, it has been a long time and it is a long wait,” Duterte said.

In August 2017, the Asean and China adopted the framework that would be the basis for the negotiations for the code. In 2018, an initial draft was agreed upon by Asean and China.

During the 22nd Asean-China summit in 2019, the regional bloc adopted the three-year timeline proposed by China for completing the CoC.

It was not the first time Duterte has called the Asean to speed up the conclusion of CoC.

During the 2019 Asean summit, he expressed disappointment over the delay in negotiations for the code. Duterte said the longer the delay, the higher the probability of maritime incidents happening.

The Philippines is the country coordinator for Asean-China Dialogue Relations until 2021.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the President also expressed Asean’s appreciation to China for its pledge to contribute to the Covid-19 Response Fund.

Roque said Duterte also affirmed that Asean encourages close cooperation and collaboration with China in the development and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

The President’s spokesman added that Duterte also said the Asean welcomes China’s pledge that Asean countries will be among the first to benefit once a vaccine becomes available.


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