PH-AUSTRALIA. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte together with other leaders from Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries are shown on-screen with Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison as the plenary meeting with Australia is livestreamed by this year’s host country, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Duterte, who attended the virtual Asean summit at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on November 14, 2020, is accompanied by some members of his Cabinet. (Presidential photo by King Rodriguez)
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday thanked the Australian government for its “consistent support” for the 2016 arbitral ruling, which invalidated China’s vast claims in the South China Sea.
Duterte said this during his intervention speech at the 2nd Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean)-Australia Biennial Summit, where he underscored the strategic importance of maintaining peace, security, and stability in the disputed waters.
“Maintaining peace, security, and stability in the South China Sea is a shared strategic objective. We can do this only if — together — we uphold the primacy of law over brute force,” he said.
“Prime Minister (Scott) Morrison, thank you for Australia’s consistent support for 2016 Arbitral Ruling on the South China Sea,” he added.
He likewise thanked the Australian prime minister for his “kind words” following his previous speech at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), where he brought for the first time the issue of the West Philippine Sea years after the release of the arbitral award.
“Your Government’s formal manifestation before the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf reinforces our efforts to counter claims and assertive actions [that] contradict international law, particularly UNCLOS,” he told Morrison.
Duterte said the Australian government’s formal manifestations “are of utmost significance to the integrity of the Convention and the procedures it has established.”
“The growing chorus of nations affirming and defending what is right strengthens the legal order over our seas and oceans,” he added.
At the 75th Session of the UNGA last September, Duterte said the 2016 landmark decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration is “now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond reach of passing government to dilute, diminish or abandon.”
The chief executive said the Philippines “firmly reject” attempts to undermine the arbitral ruling. (PNA)