Carpio hits gov't inaction on 2016 arbitral ruling on China
Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio called the government’s claim enforcing the 2016 arbitral ruling on China over the territorial dispute will result to war a “false claim” and only intended to "scare" Filipinos.
In a speech at Taguig City on Friday, Carpio said it has been three years since the Philippines won the arbitral award but the Duterte administration “has done absolutely nothing” to enforce the award and just shelve the award that overwhelmingly favor the Philippines.
Carpio said the administration has given two reasons for their inaction. One is because China is a “friend” and second is enforcing the ruling will just end up to a war with China, he added.
“Both are totally suspicious,” he said.
Carpio questioned China’s friendship with the Philippines after it continues to claim the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), preventing the country from exploiting the natural resources such as oil and gas; and letting Chinese fishermen fish in the waters exclusive for Filipinos.
“How can a country that has committed obviously unfriendly acts against the PH and continues to do so be consider a friend of the Philippines?” he asked.
“Second the claim that enforcing the arbitral award means going to war with China, a war the Philippine will surely lose, is an utterly false claim designed to intimidate the Filipino people to submit to the will of China,” said Carpio.
Carpio said the Philippine Constitution and international law prohibit a country from going to war to settle a territorial or maritime dispute.
“It is clearly unconstitutional for the Philippine government to go to war with China to enforce the arbitral award. It is also against international law to go to war to enforce the arbitral award. The United Nations charter has outlawed the resort to war to settle territorial or maritime disputes between states,” he explained.
Carpio said the administration did not only shelve the ruling. It also intentionally or intentionally committed an act that risk waiving or diminishing the arbitral award.
“The president recently declared that he had a verbal agreement with President Xi (Jinping) that Filipinos could fish in Scarborough Shoal while the Chinese (fishermen) could fish in Reed (Recto) Bank,” he said.
But based on news reports, Chinese fishing vessels were spotted all over the West Philippine Sea.
“This is of course unconstitutional since the constitution mandates that the exploitation of the natural resources in Philippines' EEZ, which includes Reed Bank is reserved exclusively for Filipinos,” he said.
Carpio called the agreement lopsided for the Philippines and urged the government to reject this.
He said Chinese can fish in an area 59 times greater than the area where the Filipinos can fish.
“Moreover, Filipino can only fish outside the lagoon of Scarborough Shoal where there are fewer fish. The Philippines must reject this verbal agreement. We cannot allow this lopsided agreement, grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the Filipino people,” he said.
“The Filipino people must voice out this sentiment and tell our congressman, senators and members of the cabinet that this lopsided verbal agreement is extremely prejudicial to the Filipino people,” he added.
The verbal agreement allowing Filipino fishermen to fish outside the Scarborough Shoal costs nothing to China, according to Carpio.
“The agreement of course will substantially diminish the arbitral award as self-inflicted blow again to our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea. We must therefore do everything to convince the present government administration not to confirm or ratify the supposed verbal agreement with China,” he said.
“We are terribly at the losing end of that agreement because we are opening the entire West Philippine Sea,” he said.
Carpio urged the Philippine Navy to join the Freedom of Navigation and Over Flight Operations (FONOPs) especially now they have ongoing modernization program.
“The FONOPs are a peaceful and lawful exercise of the rights of the navy’s of coastal states,” he said.
“The Philippines should of course welcome and even encourage the FONOPs of these naval powers. Unfortunately, the present government administration has distance itself from this FONOPs stating the Philippines does not take sides in the dispute between China and it’s naval powers over these FONOPs in the South China Sea,” he added.
Stating the latest SWS survey, Carpio said the 97 percent of Filipinos who want the arbitral award enforce will welcome the FONOPs of this naval powers.
“Only China and those who don’t want the arbitral award enforce would oppose this,” he said.
He said these FONOPs proves the nine-dash line claim of China is not true.
Carpio said the public must remain vigilant that there is no waiver or diminishment of the arbitral award whether intentional or not.
“And we must continue to explore creative and innovative ways through which Filipinos, aspiring citizens can fortify and enforce the arbitral award,” he said. Ella Dionisio/DMS