Lorenzana apologizes to Carpio, former Foreign Secretary Del Rosario on "empty victory" at PCA
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana apologized to former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Acting Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Carpio for saying the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling is an “empty victory”.
“I sincerely apologize to these two great gentlemen for ruffling their feelings when I said that the PCA ruling in our favor is an empty victory. Both have reasons to be miffed for they worked hard to win our case before the PCA. It was not my intention to denigrate their achievement,” Lorenzana said.
“Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario and Acting Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio T. Carpio have both served and are still serving our country with utmost dedication. They have my highest regard for being true patriots, having spent enormous efforts and time to vigorously and successfully argue our case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague,” he added.
Lorenzana explained “the phrase "empty victory" does not pertain to the efforts of Mssrs. Carpio and del Rosario in successfully winning our case in the PCA but rather, to the outcome of the ruling.”
“With the realities on the ground, the victory being claimed is premature and incomplete since the ruling has no enforcement mechanism,” he said.
“How can victory be claimed over an arbitration case that proceeded even if the other party declined to participate, having stated from the beginning that it will not abide by the arbitration’s outcome? If it is a victory, then why is the WPS not under our complete control? If we are victorious, why are the Chinese still in the WPS? Lest we forget, the Malaysians and Vietnamese are also within our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), occupying many islands which they have improved through the years,” he noted.
“Until we regain complete control of our EEZ, and until the PCA ruling is fully enforced, it remains just a piece of paper. It pains me to say this but it is the fact. Not telling the people the real situation on the ground vis-a-vis the PCA ruling and pretending that it is a victory is grossly misleading, and gives our people false hopes,” he added.
Lorenzana also mentioned that the freedom of navigation operations was not being done by other countries to enforce PCA ruling but to protect their national interest.
“Acting SC Justice Antonio Carpio is also reading a lot on the FONOPS ( freedom of navigation operations) being undertaken by the US and other countries in the South China Sea (SCS). I have not heard the Americans say that their FONOPS are done to enforce the PCA ruling,” he said.
“In truth, those countries have been conducting FONOPS long before the PCA ruling was promulgated and they will continue to do so with or without it in order to protect their own national interests by maintaining free and unimpeded passage for both their merchant and navy ships through the South China Sea,” he noted.
“Accordingly, this is to prevent China from making the entire SCS a Chinese Lake and turning it into an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ),” he added.
Lorenzana emphasized people also needs “to understand that the PCA ruling was about sovereign rights and not sovereignty, which are two different things.”
Lorenzana also reiterates how the country benefits from the way President Rodrigo Duterte or the present administration is handling the dispute with China.
“We did not lose any territory in the West Philippine Sea during the Duterte Administration because the nine islands that were under our control before the Bajo de Masinloc (BDM) standoff are still occupied by Filipinos to this day,” he said.
“What the Chinese actually reclaimed are artificial structures which did not exist prior to the BDM incident. Furthermore, the PCA ruling declared BDM as a common ground where any country can fish,” he noted.
“The President has consistently said he is not setting aside the PCA ruling. In his recent State of the Nation address (SONA), President Duterte said, “Our improved relationship with China does not mean we will waver to defend our interest in the West Philippine Sea.” In the meantime, the President is using our renewed warm relations with China to bring benefits to our people,” he added.
“While the past and present administrations differ in their approaches in pursuing the same national interest, prudence dictates that diplomacy is still the better strategy to advance our country's interests in the West Philippine Sea,” Lorenzana stated. Robina Asido/DMS