Carpio refutes Duterte, says Hague tribunal heard China’s position

Retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio debunked President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that no arbitration happened over the West Philippine Sea supposedly because China’s position was not heard by the Hague tribunal in the Philippines-China case.

“This is totally false,” said Carpio on Wednesday, July 28, during the 1Sambayan opposition coalition’s panel discussion two days after Duterte deliver his final State of the Nation Address (SONA). 

Carpio, who is 1Sambayans lead convenor, was reacting to a statement Duterte made in his SONA as he reiterated his defeatist approach towards China in the West Philippine Sea. The West Philippine Sea is part of the South China Sea that belongs to Manila but Beijing is claiming as its own.

Duterte said he cannot insist on Philippine’s historic tribunal victory against Beijing in 2016 because the latter’s side was allegedly not tackled at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

But this is untrue.

Carpio said China had submitted to the tribunal its position paper countering Manila’s claims over the West Philippine Sea. 

“China was given all the opportunity by the arbitral tribunal to present its side. China even submitted its position paper and China said we are not participating, but this is our position paper,” Carpio said.

“Every pleading that the Philippines submitted, China was given a copy of that pleading. They were given copies of the transcripts of every hearing, but China refused,” he added.

Carpio had been part of the powerhouse delegation the Philippines sent before the Permanent Court of Arbitration as the country challenged Beijing’s claim over the West Philippine Sea.

In a separate statement, former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario said: “The President, being the chief foreign policy-maker in the country, has sold out our nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity to China. We cannot and must not stand idly by as President Duterte steals our nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity to give to China what rightfully belongs to the Filipino people.”

“This September 2021, President Duterte has one last chance to bring our case in earnest to the UN General Assembly and, equally important, to consolidate the support of the international community for the Award. This is President Duterte’s opportunity to demonstrate that he loves his fellow countrymen more than he loves Xi Jinping,” Del Rosario added.

In 2016, the tribunal struck down Beijing’s expansive claim over the South China Sea.

Since the beginning of his term, however, Duterte has downplayed the Philippines’ maritime and territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea in exchange for economic benefits from Beijing. 

Five years later, he has little to show that his China pivot has paid off. 

Diplomatic and defense experts have said Duterte’s strategy of trying to secure compromises with China failed to deliver financial wins for the Philippines, weakened institutions, and failed to advance the country’s position in the West Philippine Sea. 

There’s also a strong clamor from Filipinos to assert the country’s rights in Philippine waters. – with reports from Sofia Tomacruz/

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.