PH defense in sea row now in people’s hands–Carpio
Every Juan and Juana dela Cruz will now have to join the fight in asserting the country’s sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea through “people-to-people conversation” with the international community, especially the Chinese, according to Supreme Court acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio.
“Unfortunately, after the [Permanent Court of Arbitration] ruling came out in favor of the Philippines, President Duterte decided to put aside the ruling in order to secure loans and investments from China,” Carpio said on Friday in an address to graduating law students in Cebu City.
Generation who ‘slept’
“We, the Filipino people, must take the defense of the West Philippine Sea into our own hands,” Carpio said at the University of San Carlos. “Let it not be said by future generations of Filipinos that today’s generation of Filipinos slept while China seized the West Philippine Sea.”
The senior magistrate said Manila should take action against Beijing’s continued attempt to seize 80 percent of Manila’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea, a portion in the vast South China Sea, which Beijing had been claiming wholly.
He made the remarks a few days after the Inquirer reported that two Chinese military cargo planes had landed on China’s artificial island in Panganiban Reef in the Spratlys, an area located well within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer EEZ.
Carpio was part of the legal team that secured for the Philippines the landmark ruling of the UN-backed arbitral court in The Hague that voided China’s “nine-dash line” claim.
“If we lose this huge maritime area, we lose it forever. This generation, and future generations of Filipinos, will never be able to recover this vast area with all its rich natural resources,” he said.
But he maintained that an armed confrontation against China would never be an option.
Instead, Carpio proposed a “historic people-to-people conversation” with the Chinese people and citizens of other UN member-states “through social media, blogs, conferences, journals, books and newspapers.’’
Reached for comment, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Mr. Duterte was committed to protect the West Philippine Sea. “No chance we will ever lose it because [he] will not allow it,” he stressed. —WITH A REPORT FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA
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