Carpio: Difficult to defend sea if China is biggest creditor of PH
Asserting its territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea would be more difficult for the Philippines if China would become its main source of foreign loans, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned on Monday.
“This is not a gift from China. It’s a loan. We [have to] repay. Why will we give up the West Philippine Sea and all the resources there when we’re only getting a loan?” Carpio said at the Meet the Inquirer Multimedia forum.
The West Philippine Sea is part of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.
“Do we want to protect the West Philippine Sea, get the gas, oil and fish for the next generation of Filipinos or are we willing to give that away in exchange for loans that we have to repay?” Carpio asked.
“It’s difficult to defend the West Philippine Sea against China if China is our biggest creditor,” he stressed.
After saying he would ride a Jet Ski to the disputed Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) in the Spratly archipelago and plant a Philippine flag there, President Duterte worked for the thawing of the once icy relations between Manila and Beijing by not invoking last year’s decision of the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration.
That decision invalidated China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea in a challenge brought by the Philippines.
Pivot from US, to China
Mr. Duterte also loosened the Philippines’ ties with the United States, its oldest military ally, and adopted a foreign policy friendly to China.
His friendly approach to the territorial dispute seemed to bear fruit, as he returned from a trip to Beijing in October with $24 billion in investment and credit line pledges.
He again flew to Beijing last month to witness the signing of several business deals between the two governments.
But Carpio, who has made the country’s fight for the resource-rich sea region in the South China Sea his advocacy, said it would be more prudent for the Philippines to exercise its ownership claims over the West Philippine Sea than to rely on the loans from China.
Citing a study by a group of local economists, he said the resources in the West Philippine Sea were seven times more valuable than the Philippines’ land-based resources.
No VFA with China
He also opposed suggestions for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to engage in training with its Chinese counterpart and for Manila to sign a military agreement with Beijing.
“It’s difficult to defend the West Philippine Sea against China … if China has a Visiting Forces Agreement with us and is allowed to enter our exclusive economic zone,” Carpio said./rga
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