Philippines won't raise China legal defeat in ASEAN meet: Yasay

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 11 2017 04:53 PM

MANILA – The Philippines will not raise its legal victory in a sea dispute with China when it hosts a Southeast Asian leaders' summit this year, Manila's top diplomat said Wednesday.

The ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which said China had no historic rights to the resource-rich South China Sea, will be raised with Beijing "at some future time," Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said.

"We are not going to raise this issue, or rather this matter or this decision of the arbitral tribunal because there is really no useful benefit," Yasay said in a news briefing.

"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 said.

Other claimants to the disputed waters are free to bring up the tribunal ruling, but the Philippines will not take the lead, he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte refused to flaunt the tribunal victory as he sought to repair ties with China and expand economic cooperation. Duterte's predecessor, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, initiated the arbitration case, a move that riled Beijing.

Yasay said, the Philippines for now would seek to improve other aspects of its relationship with China.