MANILA, Philippines – While hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit this year, the Philippines rejected the prospect of raising Manila’s legal victory against Beijing during the regional meeting.
“We are not going to raise this issue…because there is really no useful benefit,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr said in a news conference on Wednesday, January 11.
Yasay was referring to the ruling by an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration against China’s expansive claim over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Yasay explained that the arbitral ruling “is something that’s there.”
“It’s a final and binding decision to the parties. Whatever is said or discussed by anyone outside, and third parties to the case, will not change the decision,” the Philippines’ top diplomat said.
“We have used the decision as the firm legal basis for us to pursue our claims and move forward when we are able to engage China in negotiating for the implementation of that ruling,” he added.
At the same time, Yasay hailed the Duterte administration’s “pragmatic approach” toward the sea dispute.
Yasay said this pragmatic approach has prompted China to allow Filipinos to fish again in Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), which is found in the West Philippine Sea.
This is “a victory of the rule of law,” he added.
More to follow. – Rappler.com