ASEAN to ignore PH legal win vs China, draft statement shows

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 26 2017 11:48 AM | Updated as of Apr 26 2017 12:01 PM

MANILA - The Philippines' victory against China in an international court will not be mentioned in a key statement of Southeast Asian leaders who will meet here this week, according to a draft seen by ABS-CBN News.

The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines in July last year and said China had no historic rights over the resource-rich South China Sea.

The Philippines is hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit this year, as President Rodrigo Duterte seeks closer ties with China while distancing the country from the Washington, Beijing's rival for influence in the Pacific.

Filipinos living in Philippine occupied (Pagasa) Thitu island, in disputed South China Sea, sing the country's national anthem April 21, 2017. Erik De Castro, Reuters

The draft chairman's message would instead underscore the importance of "peace, stability, security, and freedom of navigation," and would urge all sea claimants to settle territorial disputes in a peaceful manner.

The Philippines, according to the draft document, shared the "serious concern expressed by some leaders over recent developments and escalation of activities in the area."

"We were pleased with the progress to complete a framework of the Code of Conduct (COC), in order to facilitate the early adoption of the COC within the ASEAN-China process," it said.

Duterte visited Beijing in October last year where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and secured an estimated $24 billion in trade and investment pledges.