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With no reference to arbitral ruling, ASEAN to pursue sea code

President Rodrigo Duterte answers questions from journalists at a news conference at the conclusion of the ASEAN meetings in Manila, Philippines on Saturday, April 29, 2017. Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines — Member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will push through with the enactment of a code of conduct on the South China without any single reference to an arbitral ruling issued by an international tribunal, President Rodrigo Duterte said.

The chairman's statement of the 10-member regional bloc this year has weakened Southeast Asian resistance against Chinese activities in the disputed waters.

Asked about the regional bloc's next step in dealing with militarization in the South China Sea, Duterte said that it was too late for the Philippines to "join the fray."

"It's really sort of a pleading or praying. It's too late for us to be joining the fray, what for? We do not have nuclear warheads, we do not want it," Duterte said in a press conference after hosting the 30th ASEAN Leaders' Summit on Saturday evening.

READ: Absent China gains from watered down ASEAN chairman statement

Duterte said that during the meeting, none of the leaders wanted to comment except that nobody wanted to start a war in the region.

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The president said that the ASEAN is eyeing to enact the code of conduct before the year ends.

"That's about it. No terms of reference except that we want the code of conduct enacted by at the very least before the end of this so that everybody would just be feel comfortable sailing there because if not then it remains to be a flashpoint," Duterte said.

Duterte added that there are the so-called flashpoints in the world today are the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East.

RELATED: ASEAN ministers ask North Korea to exercise self-restraint

"China Sea and Korea are the two flashpoints there, including the Middle East... Israel filed some missiles there and if some dumb head would retaliate that would be another flashpoint so three flashpoints in the world today for those who are peace-loving just like me," the president said.

"I do not want trouble," Duterte added.

This photo taken on April 21, 2017 shows an aerial shot of a reef in the disputed Spratly islands on April 21, 2017. Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana flew to a disputed South China Sea island on April 21, brushing off a challenge by the Chinese military while asserting Manila's territorial claim to the strategic region. AFP/Ted Aljibe

On July 12, 2016, the international tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China's nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

The Duterte administration, however, decided to set aside the ruling and repeatedly stressed that it will be brought up during an "appropriate time."

The Philippines and China are scheduled to hold direct talks to resolve the sea dispute next month.

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