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PH as China province or US territory? Ex-SC justice says it’s wrong choice

/ 04:58 PM February 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines does not need to choose between being a province of China or a US territory because it is a “false choice,” retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Friday (Feb. 28).

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“It’s a false choice because it’s not true to say that we should be either a Chinese province or US territory because we can have alliances,” he said at a forum on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in Makati City.

His statement came after President Rodrigo Duterte, who defended his decision to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US, said earlier this week that if the Philippines cannot be self-reliant, it should choose if it wanted to be a province of China or a US territory.

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The retired magistrate and staunch West Philippine Sea advocate said that the Philippines needed to forge alliances because even nations with strong militaries, like Japan and South Korea, are not entirely self-reliant.

“I cannot see how the Philippines can be self-reliant as against a regional superpower with nuclear arms like China,” Carpio said.

Japan and South Korea, he said, still rely on the US in one way or another.

“In fact, South Korea they’re paying for the presence of US troops because they can never hope to be self-reliant, unless they have nuclear weapons,” he said.

“But they can’t have nuclear weapons because they will break international law,” he went on.

Carpio said that the Philippines needed allies to counter China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

“Under the UN Charter, collective self-defense is allowed. We are allowed to defend our country against armed aggression,” Carpio said.

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“We can enter into alliances to defend our country against China, which is actively occupying and invading our territory and the rest of the country, invading our maritime zones,” he said.

Washington earlier this month received Manila’s formal notice of its intent to terminate the VFA, which governed mechanisms for visiting American soldiers and served as foundation for military exercises and humanitarian work by US troops in the Philippines. The termination would take effect after six months, or 180 days.

The President went ahead with scrapping the VFA despite advice given by his foreign and security officials to review the agreement instead.

This is because, Carpio said, that even in 2016 when he was still campaigning for the presidential elections, Duterte had already made up his mind to pivot to China or Russia.

“Now, what is the motive of the President in terminating the VFA? He has said that he wants to have an independent foreign policy, independent from the US but dependent on China for all time and be a protector of Russia,” he said.

Carpio said he believed that the President would soon push for the termination of two other key treaties with the US—the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

“Secretary [Salvador] Panelo already intimidated this. He said to be consistent with his stand then all treaties must go,” he said.

The chances for the other treaties to be terminated would increase if the Supreme Court decided that the President alone can terminate a treaty without the concurrence of the Senate, which is the sole treaty-ratifying body of the government under the Constitution.

“If the SC will rule that the President acting alone can terminate a treaty, then the MDT is a treaty, it can be terminated,” he said.

Edited by TSB
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TAGS: Antonio Carpio, China, Justice, Relations, Territory, VFA, Visiting Forces Agreement
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