Watchdog says ASEAN must stand vs. killings in Philippines

In 2016, when an worldwide 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.

The Philippines is all set to host the 30th Asean Summit, the first of the top leaders-level summit it will host in 2017, which also marks the 10-member grouping's 50th anniversary.

Chairing the two-day Manila summit, Mr Duterte is expected to push for a speeding up of negotiations on a Code of Conduct, which rival claimants have failed to agree on for many years.

The DFA is confident that the relationship between President Duterte and the ASEAN leaders will not be affected by political issues in the country.

"The region is falling deeper into dictatorship, repression and rights abuse".

The arbitration tribunal also ruled that Beijing violated the rights of Filipinos by blocking them from fishing in a disputed shoal.

He has also railed against the USA for its supposed inaction on China's aggressive island building-activities on the disputed sea, saying Washington could have sent warships there to confront Beijing.

Duterte has made no secret of his grudge against the United States and believes a US military presence of any kind in the Philippines puts his country at risk of being dragged into conflict. "We must continue to avail [ourselves] of every opportunity to assert that ruling by the arbitral court", Drilon said.

Mr Duterte, the firebrand former mayor of southern Davao City, has revived his country's economic and diplomatic ties with China and sought to recast relations with the U.S., its long-time ally, since taking office a year ago.

"I expect them to support the efforts of the Philippines to curb the drug menace, period".

The case was filed by Duterte's predecessor Benigno Aquino, who forcefully challenged Beijing through legal and diplomatic avenues including Asean events.

"The Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police [are] happy to inform you that the threats we faced in the island of Bohol and the other are confirmed reports that have been coming our way as well as to the public regarding dangers posed by terrorists in our tourists areas is already addressed", Padilla said.

Duterte, who assumed the presidency shortly before the ruling was issued, has chosen to pursue friendly ties with China to try to win billions of dollars' worth of trade and aid.

He and his aides later retracted the statements, as Duterte reverted to a more friendly tone towards China.

"We are very fortunate to say that there are no threats detected for the coming ASEAN meetings (at the PICC in Pasay City)", he added.

Pag-asa is internationally known as Thitu island and is called Zhongye island by China.

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, where about $US5 trillion of trade passes each year, while parts are also claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Summit began Wednesday in capital of Manila amid tight security.

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