China’s refusal to honor PCA ruling may stall code of conduct — Carpio
MANILA, Philippines — With China’s possible resistance to the inclusion of the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC), retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is not optimistic that the said accord will be completed before President Rodrigo Dutere leaves office.
“I’m not optimistic because the Chinese will not agree to include the arbitral ruling because if they include the arbitral ruling, that means they accept the arbitral ruling,” Carpio, one of the staunch defenders of the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel on Monday.
“But we cannot allow the arbitral ruling to be excluded because once it is not included in the Code of Conduct, China will say ‘See, the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Natioon) countries have not included the arbitral ruling because they agree with us that arbitral ruling does not apply in the South China Sea.’ They will use it against us. That’s why we have to insist,” he added.
China and countries that have conflicting territorial claims over the South China Sea, including Asean members Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei, have been negotiating for a COC.
The COC is an accord that seeks to prevent the escalation of tension in the disputed waters.
China has been pushing for its expansive claims in the South China Sea, refusing to recognize the 2016 ruling by the PCA, which invalidated its ambitious nine-dash line that claims virtually the entire body of water.
Carpio is part of the legal team that defended the Philippines’ case before the PCA.
“Actually, the Code of Conduct should have been started in 2002 and it’s over 18 years now because China has been dragging its feet. China has been delaying it because China wants to sign the Code of Conduct after it has completed its reclamation, its artificial island-building. After it has militarized all the artificial islands,” the retired magistrate said.
“But I’m happy that [Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.] has stated that the Philippines will insist…that the arbitral ruling will be included in the Code of Conduct and outside naval powers will not be excluded from the South China Sea under the Code of Conduct,” he added.
Carpio said he would only support the COC if it would contain these two conditions.
“If these two conditions are put there in the Code of Conduct, then I welcome the Code of Conduct. But if these two conditions are not there, there’s no point in signing it,” he said.
Earlier, Locsin said the Philippines will “push as hard as it can” for the completion of negotiations on the South China Sea COC.
The Philippines is the country coordinator for Asean-China dialogues.
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