MANILA - Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday launched a petition urging President Rodrigo Duterte to take back his statements that he deemed "detrimental" for the country's position in the West Philippine Sea, where China has continued incursions.
In a statement, 1SAMBAYAN, a political coalition that Carpio chairs, said the signature campaign seeks to urge the chief executive to take back his statements that are "contrary" to the Constitution.
The Change.org petition is titled “President Duterte should retract his damaging statement on the WPS,” and has so far garnered more than 500 signatures as of this story's posting.
Here are the statements that Carpio wants Duterte to take back:
- That the July 12, 2016 Arbitral Award is just a scrap of "paper" that deserves to be thrown to the "wastebasket"
- That Chinese fishermen can fish in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea
- That China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea
The West Philippine Sea is the country's exclusive economic zone in the larger South China Sea, which China claims in near entirety.
“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 was quoted as saying.
Duterte in recent speeches has repeatedly scored Carpio and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, who pursued the arbitration case against China, following their criticism of his China policy.
China refuses to recognize the United Nations-backed arbitral ruling that junked its "historical" claims to about 90 percent of the South China Sea, within which is the smaller West Philippine Sea.
Meanwhile, in a taped message on Thursday night, Duterte warned Beijing that he would not withdraw Philippine ships from disputed waters, even if China killed him.
He had earlier said his campaign statement that he would ride a jet ski to the Spratlys in the disputed waters to defend Philippine sovereignty was just a joke.
Duterte has forged friendlier relations with China since assuming power in 2016, even setting aside the arbitral award in favor of economic aid and investments from Beijing.
As of May 9, 287 Chinese vessels were still in Philippine waters, of which "bigger groupings" were spotted in Chinese-built artificial islands, while some were observed near Filipino-occupied islands, according to a government task force.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has so far filed over 83 diplomatic notes against Beijing since the President came into power in 2016.
— With reports from Jamaine Punzalan and Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters