[Newspoint] Duterte, Carpio and the dos and don'ts of leadership
Senior Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio and President Rodrigo Duterte make for a good study of the dos-and-don'ts of leadership.
Where one specimen is deliberate and discerning, the other is randomly triggered – if it does not go off by itself, as on impulse; where one is independent-minded, yet possessed of a strong sense of public interest, the other appears compromised and is self-centered.
The contrast is made even more relevantly instructive by the issue in point: the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea, depending on one's perspective; it's an issue one could oversimplify or complicate as one might insist. Duterte does both.
The disputed waters, in Duterte's view, are neither here nor there, neither part of our territory nor part of the Chinese's, in spite of an international arbitral court decision situating it in our territory and pronouncing it, therefore, ours. In that strange sense of his and, in the face of Chinese military bullying, Duterte feels that the obvious recourse left us is to get out of their way and yield our waters to them.
Well, Carpio, simply by being sensible, seems to me making Duterte look bad. He advises Duterte, “Avoid any act, statement, or declaration that expressly or impliedly waives Philippine sovereignty over any Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.”
Obviously Carpio has been provoked by Chinese activity that foreshadows Chinese construction there, specifically on Scarborough Shoal, and by Duterte’s own reaction to it: “We cannot stop China. . . What do you want me to do, declare war against China? . . . we [will be] destroyed as a nation.”
Duterte’s deference to China does seem in fact a matter of diplomatic position, if not policy, which he laid down early in his presidency: during his visit to China, he declared himself a triumvir with China’s Xi Jin Ping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin “against the West.” (Some members of the House of Representatives, apparently confused or in the dark like everyone else, have asked Duterte to explain his position or policy toward China in writing. That will be a real challenge for someone like Duterte, who likes to wing things.)
To Carpio, Scarborough Shoal is no fanciful matter, but a serious one of international law and territorial integrity. He may well be the foremost Filipino authority on those subjects as linked disciplines, but, for now, he doesn’t seem to have to go any deeper than Duterte – or you and I – can understand. (READ: 5 ways Duterte can defend Scarborough without going to war)
The “least” Duterte should do is lodge “a formal protest” with Beijing, he says, citing Vietnam’s case involving the Paracels. Even before a resolution could be reached in its own dispute with China on those islands, Vietnam protested against what it regarded as a provocative assertion of unproved sovereignty when a private Chinese cruise ship sailed there.
Duterte could also send out a patrol ship, Carpio says. “If the Chinese attack . . . invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty, which covers any armed attack on Philippine Navy vessels operating in the South China Sea.” Carpio points out that, for a similar treaty to be applicable, Japan got the United States to acknowledge as Japanese territory the Senkaku, comprising islands being eyed by China.
As for the larger issue of how to conduct bilateral relations with China, Carpio suggests “a national debate” in search of a consensus. For all of his expertise and sensibleness, Carpio is taking a long shot. His suggestions turn on two ideas that don’t fit in with Duterte’s authoritarian predisposition.
He has turned away from the US, the Philippines’ oldest ally, and moved toward China. As for consensus-building, not much of any views opposed to his own on any issue get raised with him, much less get through him. And with issues involving China, like the West Philippine Sea, he’s even less penetrable, always quick to disallow another word on them, and demanding to be left alone to take them up with the Chinese in his own good time.
How, then, does Carpio hope to get anywhere with Duterte? How, on the other hand, does Duterte hope to get anywhere with the Chinese after allowing them to have their way with us?
Continued to be left unattended, the problem can only compound itself. Does Duterte care? He doesn’t even seem to think there’s any problem at all. – Rappler.com