MANILA, Philippines – For more than 5 years, Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has lectured before mostly Filipino students and academics to debunk China’s claim over the disputed South China Sea.
More than 140 lectures and speeches later, Carpio published an e-book hoping his words can influence a most critical audience: the Chinese people themselves.
Carpio on Thursday, May 4, launched his e-book, The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea.
The 264-page e-book can be downloaded for free from the following websites:
In a speech at his book launch on Thursday, Carpio said his e-book has 3 objectives.
First, he wants to inform Filipinos about the riches they own in the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea being claimed by the Philippines.
Once Filipinos understand this, they “will never allow” any administration “to give away or compromise these maritime areas or resources.”
Second, he wants to inform other coastal states “that it is in their national interest to help the Philippines” protect its waters.
“For if China can grab for itself the maritime entitlements of the Philippines in violation of international law, then other coastal states may also lose their maritime entitlements to their more powerful neighboring states,” he said.
To achieve this second objective, Carpio’s e-book will eventually be published in Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesia, Japanese, and Spanish.
‘Chinese people good, but…’
Carpio said his e-book will also be released in Mandarin. He said this is connected to his third objective.
“Third, this e-book is intended to convince the Chinese people that the 9-dash line has no legal or historical basis,” he said.
The 9-dash line is the demarcation used by China to claim virtually the entire South China Sea.
In a historic case filed by the Philippines against China, an arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, ruled in July 2016 that this 9-dash line is baseless in international law.
“The Chinese government will not comply with the ruling of the arbitral tribunal unless the Chinese people understand that the 9-dash line is baseless,” Carpio said.
He added: “I believe that, like all other peoples of the world, the Chinese people are inherently good, but their government has drilled into their minds that they owned the South Chinese Sea since 2,000 years ago. This is, of course, utterly false and the world will never accept this.”
“Once the Chinese people realize the falsity of the 9-dash line, they themselves will be too ashamed to press the 9-dash line claim before the world. That will be the time when the Chinese government can comply with the ruling of the arbitral tribunal,” he said.
Carpio said the third objective, which is to influence China, was crucial in choosing the e-book format.
“Now, why an e-book and not a physical book? This book in its printed form can never be distributed in China. It will be banned,” he said.
“The only way this book can reach the Chinese people is in electronic format through the internet, and through multiple download sources,” he explained.
Carpio, however, said that for the launch on Thursday, he printed 300 hardbound copies of his book for those “who prefer this e-book in hard copy.”
‘Right prevails over might’
Among those who attended Carpio book launch were former president Fidel V. Ramos, former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario, and former chief justices Hilario Davide Jr and Artemio Panganiban.
In a speech at Carpio’s book launch, Del Rosario thanked Carpio “for continuously emphasizing the need to defend our rights through peaceful international legal action.”
Del Rosario stressed that the Philippines “cannot weaken” the protection of rule of law “by picking and choosing when to promote the law and when to ignore it.”
“Thank you, Justice Carpio, for being the most diligent defender of our country’s position in the disputes over the South China Sea,” said Del Rosario, who was foreign secretary when the Philippines filed a case against China.
Carpio, 67, began to actively advocate the Philippines’ rights in the West Philippine Sea after he delivered a speech at the Ateneo de Davao University College of Law’s 50th founding anniversary.
Carpio’s speech in that occasion on October 29, 2011, was titled “The Rule of Law as the Great Equalizer.”
“Under the Rule of Law, right prevails over might,” the Davao-born Carpio declared.
Eventually, in 2015, Del Rosario requested him to conduct an international lecture tour on the South China Sea dispute.
‘Dedicated to the Filipino youth’
Carpio has been an SC justice for more than 15 years, having been appointed on his birthday – October 26, 2001. He is set to retire on the same day in 2019. (READ: Antonio Carpio: The man on the bench)
Carpio graduated valedictorian, cum laude, from the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1975.
Carpio eventually placed 6th in the 1975 Bar Examinations.
He finished his undergraduate degree in economics at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University, where he also served as editor-in-chief of the school paper, The Guidon.
A founder of the Carpio Villaraza and Cruz law firm, he was also chief presidential legal counsel of then president Ramos.
Carpio’s new e-book on the South China Sea is composed of the following chapters:
- The South China Sea and the Austronesians
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
- Root Cause of the South China Sea Dispute
- Inter-State Disputes in the South China Sea
- South China Sea Arbitration Case: Republic of the Philippines v. People’s Republic of China
- China’s Historic Rights Claim
- Geologic Features in the Spratlys
- China-Occupied Geologic Features in the Spratlys
- Scarborough Shoal
- Harm to the Marine Environment
- Other Issues Raised in the Arbitration
- Enforcement of the Arbitral Award
- Final Word: A Caveat on Unilateral Declarations and Acquiescence
In the e-book’s dedication page, Carpio states, “This e-book is dedicated to the Filipino youth who will carry on the inter-generational struggle to defend and protect Philippine marine entitlements in the West Philippine Sea.” – Rappler.com
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