Carpio: Time to rouse Duterte from sleep, tell him China doesn’t possess WPS
MANILA, Philippines—Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday (April 30) called on Filipinos to wake President Rodrigo Duterte from slumber under his kulambo (mosquito net) and correct his belief that China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“Shout out to President Duterte that China is not in possession of the WPS,” Carpio said at an online forum hosted by the lawyers’ group Philippine Bar Association.
“Shout out loud so that President Duterte will wake up from his deep sleep under the kulambo and admit to the nation the truth – that China is not in possession of the WPS,” Carpio said.
Carpio, a vocal critic of Duterte’s handling of China incursions in WPS, said the President’s belief that China is in possession of WPS was “grossly incorrect.”
Duterte had said more than once that China is already in possession of WPS—at the Asean-India Summit in Singapore, two state of the nation addresses and this month.
Carpio said China is in possession of only eight geologic features in the Spratlys plus Scarborough Shoal and the territorial seas of these geologic features and constitute less than 7 percent of the total maritime area of WPS.
The international arbitral ruling in The Hague in 2016 dismissed China’s mythical 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. China treats the ruling as trash and refused to recognize it.
Aside from China, which refused to accept the award as expected, Carpio’s said Duterte’s “self-inflicted” blows had been a challenge to the ruling in more ways than one:
— When Duterte said in 2016 that he was “setting aside” the award to secure loans and investments from China
— Duterte’s public announcement that the Philippine Navy shall patrol only the territorial sea of the Philippines facing the West Philippine Sea but not the entire exclusive economic zone
—When he said in July 2019 that he had entered into a verbal fishing agreement with China ruler XI Jin Ping allowing Chinese fishermen to fish in the EEZ of the Philippines
— When he said in his July 2019 SONA that he was “inutile” against China intrusion in Philippine EEZ
Carpio and Duterte have been feuding verbally over WPS.
Despite the continued intrusion of China vessels in Philippine waters, Duterte said on Wednesday (April 29) that Filipinos owed a debt of gratitude to China for donating 1 million doses of Coronavac, the coronavirus vaccine made by Chinese company Sinovac and for agreeing to sell 25 million doses more. The Duterte administration has set aside at least P75 billion to purchase the Chinese vaccines.
The Philippines also purchased from China some P1.8 billion worth of personal protective equipment at the height of the pandemic in 2020.
The group Homonhon Environmental Rescue Organization, citing a report of the Task Force on West Philippine Sea, also said China vessels illegally catch at least 240,000 kilograms of fish and other marine resources in WPS every day.
In his previous statements, Duterte said it was “nakakahiya”, or embarrassing, for the Philippines to confront China over incursions in WPS because of debt of gratitude.
Duterte, however, said Philippine sovereignty was nonnegotiable.
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