Duterte weakened PH position on sea row– Trillanes
President Duterte weakened the country’s position on the West Philippine Sea with the “watered down” final Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) chair’s statement released on Sunday, an opposition senator said on Monday.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said that, as chair of this year’s Asean summit, Mr. Duterte should have insisted that the group’s final statement mention the historic ruling of the international arbitral tribunal in The Hague, which favored the Philippines over China in their dispute over the Spratly group of islands.
“President Duterte weakened the position of our country in relation to the arbitral tribunal ruling,” Trillanes told reporters.
He said the Asean summit was the “ideal” venue to raise the tribunal’s decision.
“It would have been ideal for him to mention it in such a forum. Even if it was just mentioned. At least, our legal victory should not have been ignored or set aside,” Trillanes said.
“So, it weakened our position,” he added.
The final Asean chair’s statement, issued a day after the Asean leaders’ summit ended on Saturday, only “took note of concerns expressed by some leaders over recent developments” in the South China Sea.
“We reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability and security and freedom of navigation and over-flight in and above the South China Sea,” the statement read.
“We reaffirmed the importance of the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities, and avoiding actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursuing the peaceful resolution of disputes, without resorting to the threat or use of force,” it added.
The statement did not mention the arbitration tribunal’s ruling or the issue of militarization and land reclamation in the West Philippine Sea.
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