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60th ASEAN Summit begins in Philippines
08 May 2017, 03:30 | Katrina Lee
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Former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario said Manila should take the opportunity presented by the summit to discuss an global arbitration tribunal's ruling on a case filed by the Philippines that rejected China's claims to the South China Sea.
In 2016, when an global court ruled in favour of the Philippines against China's reclamation in the South China Sea, in a case brought by then-President Benigno Aquino, several Asean meetings were marked by unusual signs of public discord among members on how the bloc should respond.
"That the Philippines is chairing the ASEAN Summit against this horrifying backdrop is a scandal", said Champa Patel, Amnesty International's director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. At least the G-7 had the guts to issue the call ahead of the ASEAN summit.
As part of that, he has said he will not use the ruling to pressure China.
According to a draft of the chairman's statement, the association will take a softer approach towards South China Sea disputes and exclude references to militarisation or island-building.
The summit is scheduled to focus discussions on measures to effectively deploy the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, master plans to implement the vision on the three pillars of politics-security, economy and socio-culture; the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025; and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan III.
Last year, the Philippines won an arbritation case against China over it's disputed "nine-dash line" claim to swathes of the South China Sea - a claim first put forward by the previous Philippine government in 2013.
Ten months into Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte's tenure, his strategic honeymoon with China has devolved into rocky relations.
China has steadfastly opposed the raising in global forums of its territorial disputes with five governments, including ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
The Philippines is hosting meetings of ASEAN this year.
Duterte has been accused by members of the previous administration of taking a defeatist position on China and on defending Philippines sovereignty.
Baja said that, even if leaders did disapprove of Duterte's tactics, they would observe a long-standing ASEAN policy of non-interference in each others' affairs.
Last year, the Philippines won a legal battle against Beijing's vast maritime claims on the contested South China Sea, a crucial sea channel where trillion dollars' worth of trade passes yearly.
He also said he may go to one of the islands already occupied by the Philippines to plant a national flag.
"We were pleased with the progress to complete a framework of the Code of Conduct, in order to facilitate the early adoption of the CoC within the ASEAN-China process", the statement read.
"The President made the commitment to prioritize a better life for all, to improve lives by reducing poverty by rebuilding trust in government and peace in our borders", Abella said.
These challenges, which include a demand to flight passengers to identify themselves, is one way China asserts its claim in the disputed sea.
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