Duterte won’t raise UN sea ruling at Asean summit
President Rodrigo Duterte will not raise the United Nation’s (UN) arbitral ruling favoring the Philippines’ diplomatic protest against China’s expansive claim in the South China Sea at the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit.
Duterte said the UN arbitral ruling against China was a non-issue at the regional meeting in Manila.
“We will skip…I will skip the arbitral ruling. It is not an issue here in the Asean. Code of conduct, maybe. But arbitral, it’s only between China and the Philippines. So I’ll skip that,” he told reporters after a bilateral meeting with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah in Malacañang on Thursday.
“Why should I challenge somebody there, engage someone with a non-issue?” he added.
While he turned down plans to discuss the arbitral ruling, Duterte said the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea must be discussed during the leader’s summit this weekend.
“It must be taken up but we will not talk about sovereignty or what part of the islands there, I said, because that is not an issue before the Asean summit. What is at issue is the conduct of the parties in the use of South China Sea,” he said.
The President said he would continue talking to China, but the matter on the arbitral ruling will be discussed at a later time.
“We cannot, on our own, enforce the judgment of the Arbitral Tribunal,” he said. “Stop dreaming that arbitral [victory] unless we are prepared to go to war,” he said.
Duterte, who has taken steps to mend the Philippines’ strained relations with China, said it was his own decision not to raise the UN arbitral ruling at the Asean summit.
“Nobody tells me what to do or what to say,” he said when asked if China asked him not to discuss the ruling during the summit.
The Chief Executive said it’s useless to make a “strong protest” for now since China had repeatedly said it won’t honor the ruling.
“China said [it’s] completely ignoring the arbitral. So what more can you ask of it? Make noise? For what?” he said.
Asked about the aggressive reclamation activities of China in the disputed sea territories, Duterte said “it cannot be an issue anymore” since it has been ongoing.
“What could be the purpose also of discussing it kung wala kang magawa?” he said.
Pressed if the Philippines could pressure China by way of international opinion, he said, “You cannot do that, you’re just dreaming. Those are theories which you are dreaming. That’s really the (Barack) Obama style. All dreams.”
“You go into reality. Who will dare pressure? Who can pressure China? Us? Katagal na niyang construction na ‘yan (The construction has been there for a long time). There [were] so many photos and pictures published four years ago,” he said.
Duterte said it was the United States which could have stopped the massive reclamation in the disputed South China Sea but it had done nothing.
“Sino ang makahinto no’n, tayo (Who will stop China, the Philippines)? It’s only America. Eh bakit nila pinayagan ‘yan na ganon na tapos tayo itutulak nilang arbitration, arbitration (Why did they allow it and now we’re being nudged to invoke the arbitration ruling)? Gusto nila mag-suicide tayo (They want us to commit suicide). Masyado kayong bilib sa Amerika eh (You believe too much about America),” he said.
The President earlier hit the inaction of US when China started reclamation activities over the disputed South China Sea years back.
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