President Rodrigo Duterte (MNS photo)

MANILA, Nov 27 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday invoked the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as the only acceptable basis for order in the South China Sea, saying there can be “no real peace if the strong trample on the weak.”

Duterte made the remark during the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM) a week after China’s coast guard blocked and fired a water cannon at Filipino boats en route to a resupply mission in waters off the Ayungin Shoal.

“There can be no real peace if the strong trample on the weak – just because it can. There can be no other acceptable basis for a just maritime order but the law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Duterte said.

In July 12, 2016, The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration upheld the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as provided by the UNCLOS. It also invalidated Beijing’s massive historical claims in the area.

The ruling was handed down in The Hague, Netherlands, more than three years after the case was filed by the Philippines in January 2013.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. reported the water cannon incident last week.

China defended its action, saying it was defending its sovereignty and that the Filipino boats entered its waters without permission.

Ayungin Shoal is well within the Philippines’ EEZ.

China has demanded that the Philippines remove BRP Sierra Madre from the shoal a day after Filipino boats reached the grounded Navy ship to complete their resupply mission.

Duterte on Monday condemned the action of Chinese ships.

“We abhor the recent event in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments,” Duterte said.

“This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership,” he added during the ASEAN-China special summit.

Duterte on Friday thanked the ASEM partners which issued statements of support on upholding the rule of law in the South China Sea.

He also welcomed their interests to enhance cooperation and maritime security.

“This is as it should be – the entire community of nations – working for peace, committing to stability and upholding the majesty of the law,” he added.

The ASEM summit was held from November 25 to 26. (MNS)

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