New Pinoy lawyers warned vs helping China in sea row

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 07 2014 03:59 AM | Updated as of May 07 2014 11:59 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has warned new lawyers that they would be considered traitors if they "intentionally aid an opposing party" in the arbitration proceedings on the West Philippine Sea territorial dispute in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Speaking during the oath-taking ceremony of new lawyers last Monday, Carpio said Filipinos before the international tribunal must be careful with their actions because decisions from such a tribunal “bind the Philippines and there is no appeal.”

“You may one day represent the Philippine government in arbitration cases before an international tribunal,” he said.

“Bear in mind that such task demands the highest degree of loyalty, allegiance and diligence as a lawyer. If you fall short, you will be branded not only as disloyal but also as a traitor to your own country.

“Once the Philippines loses a part of its territory or sovereign rights to another state in a binding international arbitration before an international tribunal, such territory and sovereign rights are lost forever and cannot be regained without consent of the other state, which obviously will never give back that priced possession to the Philippines.”

Carpio said lawyers have now become the “rock stars” of maritime disputes in place of fleet admirals and sea captains.

Use of aggression to settle sea disputes had been outlawed through the UNCLOS, he added.?Carpio said the UNCLOS mandates that arbitration or conciliation be the mode of settlement in almost all maritime issues.

“The maritime battles now take place in dignified palatial courtrooms in The Hague or Hamburg, no longer in the storm-tossed oceans and seas,” he said.

Speaking before the Philippine Bar Association in August last year, Carpio expressed fear that territorial claims over disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea could end up being dictated by naval strength, not by the rule of law.

Three months earlier, Carpio told law students of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila that under the United Nations Charter, a winning state in a decision by the International Court of Justice could ask the Security Council to enforce the decision.

Carpio wrote the Supreme Court decision that unanimously affirmed the constitutionality of the Philippine Archipelagic Baselines law of 2009.

The Baselines Law was passed to beat the deadline of UNCLOS.

Under UNCLOS, a country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is determined to extend outward from that country’s baselines.

China deploys jamming equipment

China has deployed ship-based state-of-the-art communications and jamming equipment in Ayungin Shoal to restrict activities of the Philippine military.

A senior military official said two Air Forces planes lost contact with one another while flying over the shoal last Saturday.

“All the communication channels up there suddenly went dead, forcing our pilots to simply navigate on their own without proper coordination,” the military official said.

The military official said jamming by the Chinese could jeopardize the safety of unarmed planes and civilian aircraft flying over Ayungin.

But it will not deter the military from making routine territorial monitoring flights over Ayungin and the country’s regime of islands in the West Philippine Sea, the military official added.

A pilot flying one of the planes said that while airborne, all he could hear in the airwaves were Chinese words, even in other frequencies when he tried to contact the other plane through another airwave.

China has thrown a naval blockade around Ayungin Shoal, only 105 nautical miles from Palawan.

It has succeeded in driving away ships from Armed Forces Western Command (Wescom) sent to bring food and water to Marines stationed on the grounded BRP Sierra Madre. – With Jaime Laude