QUEZON CITY, Nov. 12 (PIA) -- At the virtual plenary session of the 37th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit today, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte strongly emphasized the country's position on the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea claim, consistent with international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to maintain peace and order in the region.
"The 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea is an authoritative interpretation of the application of UNCLOS. It is now part of international law. And its significance cannot be diminished nor ignored by any country, however big and powerful," he said.
He urged regional leaders to remain united towards achieving ASEAN Centrality, which he believed could only be assured if all member states would work for it to deserve it.
"ASEAN Centrality is not, however, a constant given. We have to work for it to deserve it. We have to enhance our credibility as an independent actor able to engage all regional stakeholders with vision and strategic coherence. We must, therefore, remain united," Duterte said.
Duterte also advised leaders to resist some external forces that are attempting to divide the region.
"Dictated by zero-sum logic, external powers will continue to maneuver to get us to choose camps. And this we must resist - consistently and firmly," he said while adding that as leaders of their respective countries they are the master of the region's destiny.
As the ASEAN Country Coordinator for China, the Chief Executive reaffirmed ASEAN's commitment to the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in South China Sea in its entirety and to work towards conclusion and adoption and effective substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
The 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, with the theme "Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN," is hosted by Viet Nam.(MTQ/PIA-IDPD)