PH can sue China for war threat – Justice Carpio
MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio urged the Philippine government on Saturday, May 20, to sue China for threatening war against the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute.
In a statement, Carpio said the Philippines should run to another arbitral tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to protect the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
UNCLOS is the so-called Constitution for the Oceans while the EEZ is the 200-nautical mile area from a coastal state's baselines, within which the coastal state has the exclusive rights to explore and exploit resources.
Carpio wrote, "As a nation that under its Constitution has renounced war as an instrument of national policy, the Philippines' recourse is to bring China's threat of war to another UNCLOS arbitral tribunal, to secure an order directing China to comply with the ruling of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal that declared the Reed Bank part of Philippine EEZ."
"The Philippines can also ask for damages for every day of delay that the Philippines is prevented by China from exploiting Philippine EEZ," he added.
What China told Duterte
Carpio is one of the staunchest advocates of the Philippines' claim over the West Philippine Sea. (READ: Why Carpio wants China to read his e-book)
Sought for clarification, Carpio explained that the Philippines "can sue" China because the Asian giant "is not complying with the previous ruling" issued by another arbitral tribunal.
This tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, ruled in July 2016 to invalidate China's expansive claim over the South China Sea, but China has refused to comply with this ruling.
Carpio made his remarks after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, May 19, said Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that China will go to war if the Philippines "forces the issue" of the arbitral ruling on the South China Sea.
Duterte quoted Xi as saying: "Well, we are friends. We do not want to quarrel with you. We would want to maintain the present warm relationship. But if you force the issue, we will go to war."
Run to UN, Carpio says
Reacting to China's threat, Carpio also said on Saturday that the Philippines can also run to the United Nations (UN) as another option.
Carpio said, "The Philippines can also bring China's threat to go to war against the Philippines before the United Nations General Assembly by sponsoring a resolution condemning China's threat of war against the Philippines and demanding that China comply with the ruling of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal."
He pointed out that China has no veto power in the UN General Assembly.
He added that Duterte "cannot simply do nothing, or worse acquiesce to China's action, for inaction is the opposite of protecting Philippine EEZ."
"Acquiescence means the Philippines will lose forever its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea to China," Carpio said.
He added that China is the only country that "has threatened the Philippines with war over Philippine EEZ in the West Philippine Sea."
"China's threat of war against the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea reveals the aggressive design of China against the Philippines," the justice said.
"This extremely troubling development calls for all Filipinos to unite to defend the West Philippine Sea in accordance with the Constitution, international law, and UNCLOS," he added.
Former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario also weighed in on the issue, saying on Saturday: "Contrary to our position that right is might, China has strongly declared that it is might that will trump what is right."
Del Rosario said that "China – unless it stands to benefit – does not intend to respect the rule of law."
Malacañang, on the other hand, reacted to a reported statement by Carpio that Duterte effectively gave the "green light" to China's island building activities in the West Philippine Sea by not mentioning it in the Chairman's Statement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila.
"With all due respect to the Senior Associate Justice, Chinese island building and military deployment activities on certain features in the West Philippine Sea have been ongoing for some years now," Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said.
"The disputes in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea are not the sum total of our relations with China, but we are cognizant of the warmer relationships we have in the region," Abella added. – Rappler.com