Yasay: I’m not unhappy, just diplomatic | Inquirer News

Yasay: I’m not unhappy, just diplomatic

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 02:34 AM July 28, 2016

It’s not that he is unhappy, he’s just being diplomatic.

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. on Wednesday sought to dispel the perception that he was not pleased with the UN-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling that granted the Philippines’ plea to invalidate China’s expansive nine-dash-line claim to the South China Sea.

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“We didn’t want to gloat about our victory,” Yasay told reporters.

“If you thought and assumed that I was not happy with the arbitral award, let me tell you, you have no basis in doing so,” he said, addressing the Duterte administration’s purported subdued response to the July 12 ruling by the tribunal based in The Hague.

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Responsible, measured

US Secretary of State John Kerry later remarked: “We appreciate the very responsible and measured way that the Philippine government has responded to the decision.”

Yasay also brushed aside views that the new administration of President Duterte was friendlier to China, clarifying that the Philippines had “vigorously pushed” for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to mention the country’s arbitration victory in its joint communiqué at its recently concluded meet in Vientiane, Laos.

He had drawn criticism for agreeing to an Asean statement that left out the arbitration ruling, apparently on the protest of Cambodia, a country known to have close ties with China.

Beijing has refused to honor the legally binding ruling just as it had ignored the legal proceedings.

“We vigorously pushed for the inclusion … in the mentioning of the arbitral award. This was a diplomatic tack that had to be made. We know this was a middle ground,” Yasay said of the Asean statement that stated, albeit in general terms, the bloc’s concern for intrusive activities in the South China Sea.

Triumph for Asean

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While criticized as “watered-down,” Yasay described the ruling as a “triumph for the Asean.”

“If you look at the joint communiqué and the statement, it covers all elements and fundamental principles on which Asean is based, and which justifies the existence of the Asean,” Yasay said during the joint press conference with Kerry.

“It also expressed concern about actions that have been taken that destabilize, such as the reclamation activities that have been undertaken. And more importantly, it has asked all parties concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety toward the peaceful settlement of disputes,” he said.

Kerry, who was also present in the Vientiane meeting, agreed with Yasay.

“The communiqué clearly referenced all legal rights, all legal decisions, legal process, legal tribunal, without mentioning arbitration,” Kerry said. “But every single principle, every single value of rule of law was embraced in that communiqué.”

Asked about China’s efforts to undermine the ruling, Kerry said: “It’s impossible for it to be irrelevant. It’s legally binding. And it’s obviously a decision of a court that’s recognized under international law. It has to be part of the calculation,” Kerry said.

Without making reference to any particular claimant country, Kerry said the United States was hoping to see a diplomatic solution prevail “without coercion or the use and threat of force.”

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TAGS: Nation, News, Perfecto Yasay, South China sea, UN-based Permanent Court of Arbitration
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