Carpio praises Duterte for upholding sea freedoms

Rappler.com
Carpio praises Duterte for upholding sea freedoms

Angie de Silva

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio says it 'is a most welcome development' that President Rodrigo Duterte upheld freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea

MANILA, Philippines – Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio praised President Rodrigo Duterte for upholding freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea during his recent meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In a statement on Sunday, November 18, Carpio explained that “when states exercise freedom of navigation or overflight in the West Philippine Sea, they affirm the ruling of the arbitral tribunal that the Philippines has a full 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.”

“The statement of President Duterte upholding freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea should be the main thrust of our foreign policy in the South China Sea. The Philippines should thus encourage all states to conduct freedom of navigation and overflight exercises in the South China Sea,” Carpio said.

Carpio was reacting to the Malacañang statement on Friday, November 16, about Duterte’s bilateral meeting with Abe on the sidelines of the recently concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Singapore.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Duterte in his meeting with Abe “stressed the Philippines’ commitment to uphold the principles of freedom of navigation and overflight, freedom of commerce and other lawful activities, exercise of self-restraint, and the peaceful resolution of disputes” in the South China Sea. 

Carpio’s statement comes after he rebuffed Duterte on Friday by asserting that China does not possess the South China Sea as Duterte had claimed. 

Read Carpio’s full statement below:

STATEMENT ON  FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION 
AND FREEDOM OF OVERFLIGHT IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

JUSTICE ANTONIO T. CARPIO
November 18, 2018  

The joint declaration last November 17, 2018 of President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upholding freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea is a most welcome development in resolving the South China Sea dispute. 

Freedom of navigation and overflight means all ships can sail in, and all aircraft can fly over, the high seas and exclusive economic zones of the South China Sea without securing the consent of, or giving prior notification to, the coastal states. These freedoms include the conduct of military activities, like naval or aerial drills. 

When states exercise freedom of navigation or overflight in the South China Sea, they assert that there are high seas in the center of the South China Sea, and exclusive economic zones around such high seas. The waters of the high seas belong to all mankind. The resources in the exclusive economic zone belong exclusively to the adjacent coastal state. 

When states exercise freedom of navigation or overflight in the West Philippine Sea, they assert that there is an exclusive economic zone in that part of the South China Sea. Since the Philippines is the adjacent coastal state in the West Philippine Sea, the resources in this exclusive economic zone logically belong exclusively to the Philippines. 

In effect, when states exercise freedom of navigation or overflight in the West Philippine Sea, they affirm the ruling of the arbitral tribunal that the Philippines has a full 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea. The statement of President Duterte upholding freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea should be the main thrust of our foreign policy in the South China Sea. The Philippines should thus encourage all states to conduct freedom of navigation and overflight exercises in the South China Sea. 

The Philippines in July 2016 won a historic case against China at a Hague tribunal, which upheld the Philippines’ rights over the West Philippine Sea. Carpio was one of the advocates of this legal victory, while Duterte chose to set aside this ruling to gain loans and grants from Beijing.

Duterte is set to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping from Tuesday to Wednesday, November 20 to 21, for the first state visit of a Chinese leader in 13 years. – Rappler.com

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