Carpio cautions Duterte on impact of ‘setting aside’ arbitral ruling on SCS
MANILA, Philippines–Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday cautioned the Duterte administration on the impact of its statement that the Philippines will “set aside” the arbitral ruling in the South China Sea (SCS) dispute.
“In law, to ‘set aside’ a ruling is to abandon, overrule, reverse or annul the ruling. In this legal sense, the President under Philippine law has no authority to ‘set aside’ the arbitral ruling issued by the Hague tribunal,” Carpio said in a statement.
However, he said even if President Rodrigo Duterte has no authority under Philippine law to set aside the arbitral ruling, Duterte’s unilateral declaration “could bind the Philippines under the international law under the doctrine of unilateral declarations.”
The 2016 Arbitral Ruling has invalidated China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea, including parts of the WPS, under the nine-dash line theory.
But Beijing refused to honor the arbitral ruling and insisted on bilateral negotiation to resolve the maritime territorial dispute.
Recently, Duterte said Chinese President Xi Jinping had offered the Philippines a controlling stake in a proposed joint energy venture in the West Philippine Sea if it would set aside the arbitral ruling that was not in China’s favor.
The energy venture is about the gas deposits in Recto Bank, located in the West Philippine Sea, waters within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the heavily disputed South China Sea.
Carpio said Duterte’s “unilateral declaration” could have given up the country’s sovereign rights under the artbitral ruling had it not Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.
“The prompt clarification by Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin that the Philippines was not setting aside or abandoning the arbitral ruling, before China could accept the President’s unilateral declaration setting aside the ruling, prevented the Philippines from being bound by the President’s unilateral declaration. We should be thankful to Secretary Locsin for his vigilance in preventing a waiver of our sovereign rights under the arbitral ruling,” Carpio said. /muf
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