The Philippines "vigorously pushed" for the inclusion of a arbitration ruling in a joint statement among Southeast Asian countries but its failure to secure that was no diplomatic win for China, Manila's foreign minister said on Wednesday.
The Philippines had not sought support from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) or the international community in its arbitration case against Beijing over the South China Sea, and did not want to press the issue to provoke China, Perfecto Yasay said.
Yasay was speaking after returning from a meeting of foreign ministers in Laos, during which ASEAN dropped a U.S.-backed proposal to mention the landmark July 12 court ruling, which nullified Beijing's claims to most of the South China Sea.
"I am just saying this to dispel the reports that have been said that China came out victorious in the ASEAN meeting because we precisely agreed to not mentioning the arbitral award," Yasay told a news conference.
"But that (was) not the object of our meeting in ASEAN. The arbitral award is a matter between China and the Philippines."
Yasay said the issuance of a joint communique was a victory for ASEAN, which was divided but showed it was united on the need to stick to international law and ensure peace.