Carpio: ‘Gentleman’s agreement’ will lead to PH losing Ayungin

Carpio: ‘Gentleman’s agreement’ will lead to PH losing Ayungin

/ 05:32 AM April 13, 2024

Carpio: ‘Gentleman’s agreement’ will lead to PH losing Ayungin

Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio —INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday said that letting the BRP Sierra Madre fall into disrepair under the supposed “gentleman’s agreement” between the Duterte administration and Beijing would allow China to take full control of the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, where the dilapidated warship is grounded.

Carpio told reporters on the sidelines of a forum at the University of the Philippines that the country was at risk of losing its lone outpost at the shoal because of the deal between former President Rodrigo Duterte with Chinese President Xi Jinping.


READ: Duterte denies he ‘conceded’ anything in WPS deal with China


Duterte confirmed the “gentleman’s agreement” at a press conference on Thursday in Davao City and that its main goal was to avert armed confrontation between Filipinos and Chinese in the West Philippine Sea.

“He (Duterte) said it was [to keep] peace. But in the agreement, he agreed we won’t supply, we won’t repair (BRP) Sierra Madre, and will only bring in water and food. But that will cause the [warship] to sink since it’s rusty already,” he told reporters.

Against nat’l interest

Duterte said the agreement was intended to maintain the “status quo” in which the Philippines would only provide essential supplies like food and water to the troops manning the Sierra Madre and that there would be no repair or construction works to be done on the rusted ship.

Carpio pointed out that leaving the World War II-era vessel to decay and eventually submerge would mean “giving up the Ayungin Shoal to China.”

READ: Ex-President Duterte-China ‘agreement’ on Ayungin bared, jeered

“We won’t have an outpost anymore. We can’t protect Ayungin Shoal … and what China will do is they will enter Ayungin Shoal, and we lose another feature in the South China Sea,” he said.


In a separate interview with GMA News on Friday, Carpio supported a legislative inquiry proposed by Sen. Risa Hontiveros to look into the deal, which he said was “against the national interest.”

Gap in the law

“I agree with the inquiry to be able to craft a law that would mete out imprisonment to those who commit treason during peacetime,” Carpio said.

“There is a gap in the law,” he said. “We have to bridge that gap so that people like Duterte won’t do such things.”

READ: China insists ‘gentleman’s agreement’ under Duterte administration

Former chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, as well as three Cabinet members of the Duterte administration, had denied that there was such an agreement, which was disclosed by former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.


The supposed deal drew criticisms from some lawmakers, who called it “unconstitutional” and “treasonous,” and even from President Marcos, who said he was “horrified” by his predecessor’s supposed actions. The Philippine military grounded the Sierra Madre on Ayungin in May 1999, four years after the Chinese built what they initially called fishermen’s shelter on nearby Panganiban (Mischief) Reef despite protests from the Philippines.

Both Ayungin and Panganiban are well within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

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Panganiban is now one of the biggest of the seven artificial islands built as a military garrison by China in the West Philippine Sea inside the Philippines’ EEZ.

TAGS: Antonio Carpio, gentleman's agreement

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