Retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio launched a signature campaign on Friday, May 14, demanding President Rodrigo Duterte to retract his defeatist statements on the West Philippine Sea issue.
Caprio said the recent statements of Duterte on the sea dispute were “detrimental to the country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.”
He referred to the repeated claims of Duterte that China was “in possession” of the West Philippine Sea, which Carpio also called “dangerous” if China took his word for it. (LINK: Signature campaign demanding Duterte to retract statements on West Philippine Sea)
The signature petition was headlined “President Duterte should RETRACT his damaging statements on the WPS” on the change.org website.
Carpio’s petition specifically demanded Duterte to retract his remarks on the following:
- The July 12, 2016 Arbitral Award is just a scrap of paper that deserves to be thrown to the wastebasket;
- The Chinese fishermen can fish in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea; and
- China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea.
The retired justice said these statements were against the Constitution and showed concessions to China even though the Philippines won in the 2016 Hague ruling.
“These statements are contrary to the Constitution, waive our sovereign rights under the Arbitral Award, and even concede to China possession of the West Philippine Sea when, in fact, China is not physically and legally in possession of the West Philippine Sea,” Carpio said.
The 2016 Hague ruling reaffirmed the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) principle, which stated that all features located within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines rightfully belong to the country.
‘Not a laughing matter’
Opposition senators have also raised concerns over Duterte’s incriminating remarks. Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, a former food security secretary, said the issue should not be treated as a laughing matter by the president because many Filipinos rely on the fishing industry.
“Seryosong usapin ito. Nakasalalay rito ang kita ng ating mga kababayang mangingisda. Dito nakasalalay kung magugutom ba ang kanilang mga pamilya o hindi — ang unang-una dapat na prayoridad ng ating gobyerno,” Pangilinan said.
(This is a serious matter. Our fishermen’s livelihood rely on this. This would decide if their families would go hungry or not. That’s why this should be a main priority of the government.)
Senator Risa Hontiveros also called on Duterte to immediately retract his statements because it might worsen the Chinese incursion in the Philippine waters.
“Bawiin nila dapat yan dahil China lang ang nasisiyahan at nakikinabang sa mga pahayag na ganyan (They should retract that already because only China finds joy and benefits from those kinds of remarks),” Hontiveros said.
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) has reported that 287 Chinese maritime militia vessels remain scattered in the West Philippine Sea as of May 9. The task force also reported that Philippine government vessels were shadowed and challenged by Chinese coast guard ships in Bajo de Masinloc, Zambales on May 4.
Meanwhile, in an interview with ANC’s Headstart on May 10, Carpio said that aside from endangering the Philippines’ claim in the West Philippine Sea, Duterte’s remarks also constituted impeachable offenses because it was a “betrayal of national interest.” – Rappler.com