President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his remarks during the virtual plenary session of the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN Summit) and Related Summits hosted by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse, Malacañang Park in Manila on November 12, 2020. KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte told Southeast Asian leaders on Thursday that the Philippines’ arbitral victory against China over the South China Sea should not be ignored by any country.

“The 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea is an authoritative interpretation of the application of Unclos (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). It is now part of international law. And its significance cannot be diminished nor ignored by any country, however big and powerful,” he said in a virtual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit.

It was the second time Duterte insisted on the country’s legal victory over China in front of international leaders.

On Sep. 23, during his first United Nations address, Duterte said the country would “firmly reject” any attempts to undermine the ruling.

“As I have said before, the South China Sea issue is Asean’s strategic challenge. How we deal with this matter lays bare our strengths and weaknesses as a community. We must act with haste,” Duterte said in the Asean summit.

Duterte asserted that territorial disputes must be resolved peacefully and in accordance with the Unclos.

“The Philippine position is clear and firm. We must solve the disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law, including Unclos,” he said.

China said it “neither accepts nor recognizes” the Philippines’ legal victory on South China Sea claims.

Aside from the Philippines and China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia are also involved in the dispute. John Ezekiel J. Hirro