MANILA - Reporters waited for several hours on Saturday for the release of the joint statement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after the summit ended.
Despite assurances from the Department of Foreign Affairs that the ASEAN Chairman's statement would be released Saturday, the communique was only released early morning Sunday.
This was the first time that the joint statement was released so late after the summit ended.
Sources interviewed by ABS-CBN and Reuters mentioned that several Southeast Asian leaders wanted to mention China's militarization of the disputed islands in the South China Sea in the final joint statement.
Beijing however, had reportedly been lobbying Manila to avoid any mention of the arbitral ruling or of China's reclamation activities.
The ASEAN Chairman's statement made no mention of China's militarization of reclaimed islands , nor of Beijing's diplomatic loss via the arbitral ruling.
The final communique instead mentioned commitment to "universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)."
It also mentioned "concerns expressed by some Leaders over recent developments in the area," and "avoiding actions that may further complicate the situation."
You may read the complete statement here.