Panelo hits Carpio for being "unpatriotic" over interpretation on loan with China
President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman slammed on Wednesday Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio for trying to create "loopholes" on the Philippine loan agreement with China to the latter's advantage.
With this, the magistrate appeared to be "unpatriotic," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in an interview by ANC.
"He's the one who appears to be unpatriotic," he said, explaining that Carpio was apparently teaching China to seize Reed Bank or Recto Bank, which is being claimed by the Philippines in the South China Sea should Manila default in paying its $62 million loan for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project.
Carpio earlier warned that China could seize gas reserves believed to be in the Reed Bank with the deal that the Duterte administration entered into with Beijing.
"There are no loopholes (in the contract with China), he's the one giving the loopholes," said Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel.
He said Carpio should be "protective" of the Philippine interest being a magistrate.
But he said Carpio seemed "to be siding with the other in a way," stressing that under the loan agreement with China, there was no collateral.
In a press briefing in Malacang, officials from the Department of Finance reiterated that there was no way that the Philippines would renege on its loan with China.
Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin said under Presidential Decree No. 1177, otherwise known as the Budget Reform Decree of 1977, the government automatically appropriates portion of its annual budget to its indebtedness.
"All our indebtedness, it's automatically appropriated in our budget," he said.
While it is far-fetched if the Philippines would default from its loan with China, Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven said any ruling in the arbitration proceedings would still need to go to Philippine courts for enforcement.
He added that China could not just get any patrimonial property of the Philippines just to enforce the ruling.
"So assuming the government does not want to pay, let’s say, to enforce, to do a transaction similar to a ‘dación en pago,’ the government still needs to agree to give property, patrimonial property in exchange for a monetary debt," he said.
Some quarters have raised concerns over the Philippine getting loan from China in the wake of their territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
There were also concerns that like in other countries, such as Sri Lanka, which failed to pay their debts, Beijing seized some of their properties. Celerina Monte/DMS