- A Cambodian Foreign Affairs official claimed Yasay dropped bid to include The Hague ruling in the Asean statement
- He also dismissed accusation Cambodia vetoed the Philippine efforts because of the $600-M aid China promised
- Secretary Yasay admitted dropping the request at the Asean, but only because he believes the arbitral award is “an issue between China and the Philippines”
MANILA, Philippines – A Cambodian Foreign Ministry official has come forward to deny it thumbed down the Philippine’s request to include the Hague arbitration court ruling in the joint statement issued by the 10-member Asean nation.
According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry, Cambodia did not block the Asean from citing the court ruling in the communiqué that would have spoken out against China, but blamed Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay for dropping the request himself.
The Cambodian official said it was Yasay who asserted that the matter of territorial dispute between the Philippines and China, and more recently, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling, should be left out of the Asean meeting.
“So the foreign minister of the Philippines itself decided to remove and take out the issue of the verdict by the Court of Arbitration from the 49th Asean Foreign Minister’s Statement,” Sounry explained.
He also dispeled accusation that the reason for Cambodia’s veto is the $600 million foreign aid Beijing promised early this month, thereby solidifying their stand in favor of China in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea issue.
“Like Cambodia, we explained that Cambodia was not involved in demanding sovereignty in the South China Sea, so Cambodia kept its stance neutral, and was not on any side,” Sounry argued.
Earlier Yasay admitted it agreed not to mention the arbitral award in the statement but only because it is “an issue between China and the Philippines.”
The Philippine official also denied China has claimed victory in the Asean because of the sudden turn of events.
“I am saying this to dispel the reports in being said that China came out victorious…precisely because we did not agree to mention the arbitral award,” Yasay told reporters during a news conference.
“The purpose of Asean was simply to address the South China Sea issue in terms of trying to resolve it, consistent with the general laws,” he said.
Nevertheless, Yasay assured Filipinos he “vigorously” pushed for the inclusion of the arbitral award in the statement but what he did was “a diplomatic tact that must be made.”