Carpio to Duterte on West PH Sea dispute: Inaction, acquiescence equals PH losing EEZ forever

  • SC justice told president his inaction or acquiescence will result in PH losing EEZ in West PH Sea
  • He advised Duterte to bring up China’s war threat before the UN
  • He also said PH should strengthen ties with US instead of China

MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reminded President Rodrigo Duterte he was constitutionally obligated to protect the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the face of China’s expansionism in the West Philippine Sea.

In his statement released by the Institute for Maritime and Ocean Affairs, the justice said Duterte’s seeming reluctance to engage China firmly will result in the country losing its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea forever.

“In the face of China’s open threat of war to seize Philippine EEZ in the West Philippine Sea, an area larger than the total land area of the Philippines, the President cannot simply do nothing, or worse acquiesce to China’s action, for inaction is the opposite of protecting Philippine EEZ,” he said. “Acquiescence means the Philippines will lose forever its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea to China.”

Acknowledging that war is not feasible, Carpio advised Duterte to instead bring the matter to either a United Nations arbitral tribunal or the General Assembly where China does not hold veto power.

“As a nation that under its Constitution has renounced war as an instrument of national policy, the Philippines’ recourse is to bring China’s threat of war to another UNCLOS arbitral tribunal, to secure an order directing China to comply with the ruling of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal that declared the Reed Bank part of Philippine EEZ,” he said. “The Philippines can also bring China’s threat to go to war against the Philippines before the United Nations General Assembly by sponsoring a resolution condemning China’s threat of war against the Philippines and demanding that China comply with the ruling of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal.”

Carpio also pointed out that the Philippines can build up its ties with the United States instead since the latter has no claim in the West Philippine Sea.

“China’s blatant threat of war against the Philippines demands that the Philippines strengthens its defenses and alliances. In particular, the Philippines must strengthen its alliance with the United States, the only country with whom the Philippines has a mutual defense treaty,” he said. “The Philippines can ally with the United States because the United States does not claim the West Philippine Sea or any Philippine territory. The Philippines cannot ally with China because China wants to grab for itself the West Philippine Sea and the Spratlys.”