Carpio calls for South China Sea ‘truth movement’

Rambo Talabong

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Carpio calls for South China Sea ‘truth movement’
'The truth will secure forever our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea,' says Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Supreme Court

MANILA, Philippines – As the Chinese government uses propaganda to bolster its claim over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio called for a “truth movement” to push back against China.

“We can call this present-day information campaign the South China Sea Truth Movement, a people’s movement using freedom of expression to explain the historical truth about the South China Sea. We can invite the peoples of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, countries whose exclusive economic zones are also encroached by China’s 9-dashed line, to join us in this movement,” Carpio said.

The justice made this call on Friday, June 7, in a speech before this year’s graduates of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication. He sent Rappler on Saturday, June 8, a copy of this speech.

Carpio said it falls on Filipinos “to educate the Chinese people on the true history of the South China Sea – that as authoritatively ruled by the Hague tribunal there is no historical evidence whatsoever that China owned, possessed, or controlled the South China Sea at any time in China’s history.”

Carpio recounted how the Chinese government has perpetuated what he calls the “fake news of the century” by teaching its people that their country has owned the South China Sea for over 2,000 years, despite historical records debunking their narrative. (FAST FACTS: The South China Sea dispute)

In July 2016, an arbitral tribunal in The Hague nullified China’s claim. Carpio said the Chinese government believes that complying with the court’s decision will mean “betrayal” of their ancestors. With the way they were conditioned, Carpio surmised that the Chinese could overthrow their government if it follows the ruling.

The disinformation, Carpio pointed out, continues in China today, and it has even poured over to the Philippines with the rise of “Chinese propagandists and trolls” finding space in all media platforms. This is where Carpio believes Filipino communication experts need to come in.

“This true history is clear, obvious and simple: China never owned the South China Sea in the past, and there are high seas in the South China Sea that belong to all mankind, as there are exclusive economic zones in the South China Sea that belong solely to the adjacent coastal states,” Carpio said.

He said that every Filipino “has the inherent right and civic duty to defend Philippine territory and maritime zones” even if the Duterte administration “refuses to assert the arbitral ruling.” (READ: 2 years after winning, Duterte refuses to enforce Hague ruling)

He added: “The truth will secure forever our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, to be enjoyed by generations of Filipinos to come. This will be the ultimate reward for your efforts in taking up this historic challenge to be part of the South China Sea Truth Movement.” –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.