Carpio to Duterte: PH ‘can’t just fold up’ in the face of China incursion
MANILA, Philippines—Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Tuesday (April 20) fired back at President Rodrigo Duterte’s virtual surrender to China of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, saying the world community is a powerful ally that can help the Philippines defend its maritime jurisdiction without going to war.
“A country cannot just fold up and give up just because the other side is stubborn,” said Carpio, a staunch advocate of Philippine sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea. “This is a childish mentality,” he said.
At his weekly public address on Monday (April 19), Duterte blasted Carpio, who has taken the President to task for silence on China incursions in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“If the United Nations will ask China to surrender because of that award given to us, will China give it?” Duterte said. “Can the United Nations compel China and do you think China will just give it freely because of the United Nations’ demand?” the President continued.
“That’s what I don’t understand about him. He’s a dreamer,” said Duterte, referring to Carpio.
Duterte said fighting for Philippine sovereignty against China in the West Philippine Sea would only lead to war, which was an old argument long debunked by experts and some government officials.
“We can retake it only by force. There is no way we can get back what they call the Philippine sea without any bloodshed,” Duterte said.
Carpio said United Nations’ action on China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea could actually deliver results, contrary to Duterte’s statement that it would be useless to fight for Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.
Carpio said UN action has led to results in some cases involving countries as powerful as China.
He cited a case decided in 1987 by the UN General Assembly, the UN’s highest and most powerful body, between the United States and Nicaragua involving US interference in Nicaraguan affairs.
The UN General Assembly, Carpio said, ruled in favor of Nicaragua.
Only Israel voted for the US. After several years the US eventually complied with the UN vote to the satisfaction of Nicaragua. The US suffered a huge blow to its reputation “and decided to cut a deal with Nicaragua,” according to Carpio.
In 2019, the UN General Assembly also “overwhelmingly approved” a resolution ordering the United Kingdom to return the Chagos Archipelago to Mauritius pursuant to an opinion rendered by the International Court of Justice.
In that case, Carpio said, only five countries sided with the UK. While the UK has not complied so far, “its reputation as a law-abiding country is taking a beating,” Carpio said.
He said winning a UN resolution is already a huge victory for any country because it meant the support of the world community.
“That strengthens enormously your country’s position and weakens greatly your adversary’s position,” Carpio said.
The international arbitral ruling in The Hague in 2016 declared China’s nine-dash claim to most of South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, as invalid and baseless. China, according to the ruling, violated Philippine sovereignty and Filipinos’ right to fish and explore resources in the West Philippine Sea. Beijing is treating the ruling as garbage.
Subscribe to our global nation newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.