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‘PH must continue sea patrols; only US can stop China poachers’

07:25 PM October 11, 2016
Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio speaks during a forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) in a hotel in Makati City on Friday. ESTRELLA TORRES

Frances Mangosing

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President Rodrigo Duterte must understand the importance of continuing holding patrols within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Tuesday.

Carpio served as guest of honor at the closing of the Amphibious Landing Exercises (Phiblex) 2016, the supposed last war games between treaty allies, the Philippines and the United States.

“The Philippines must protect its EEZ. That’s the mandate of the Constitution and the only way to protect that is to send patrol ships there because if a foreign fishing vessel will poach on our waters in the EEZ, the only way we can stop them is to patrol there,” he said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana last week said the Philippines had suspended its joint patrols with the United States in the South China Sea.

READ: PH tells US no joint patrols in South China Sea

Duterte appears to be avoiding antagonizing China, despite the Philippines winning the arbitration case over the South China Sea dispute in July.

“The Constitution says the Armed Forces is responsible for protecting the national territory. Who is the head of the Armed Forces? The President,” Carpio said.

“I think if you will explain properly he will understand,” he said.

READ: Philippines wins arbitration case vs China over South China Sea

There is only one country that can help the Philippines in navigating the South China Sea issue, according to Carpio.

“There is only one power on earth that can stop the Chinese from poaching in our EEZ. That is the US,” he said.

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For instance, he said, if the country’s EEZ was unguarded, China could threaten our stake on the Malampaya gas field.

“Malampaya supplies 40 percent of energy requirement of Luzon,” Carpio said. “We have to protect that. It’s vital to our interest.”

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