MANILA - The Philippines needs to have a single repository of "historical, legal and environmental research" on the West Philippine Sea so that younger Filipinos can learn and "continue the struggle" of defending the waters from Chinese incursion, former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Monday.
The country must have a long-term plan on how to reclaim its islets that have been militarized by China, which "wrongfully" claims that they own the entire South China Sea, Carpio said in a webinar about defending the West Philippine Sea during the global pandemic.
"We must have a very good database of our arguments. All that we have done so far in terms of our historical, legal and environmental research must be put in one place so that this can be accessed by future generations," Carpio said.
"All this knowledge that we have accumulated must be passed on to the next generation... It is important that our generation should teach the Filipino youth all these facts so they will continue the struggle."
According to Carpio, the Chinese government has taught its citizens "from grade school to college that China owns the South China Sea since ancient times," which, he said, is "totally false" as ancient maps - produced in Beijing - show that the southern-most territory of the Asian giant is Hainan.
The maps were only revised in 1932 when China claimed the Paracels, and again in 1946 to include the Spratlys, he said.
"[In that revised record,] China said that the Spratlys were also claimed by the Philippines and the French who were in Vietnam then... They cannot deny this because this is their own publication," Carpio said.
Filipino students should be exposed to more fora about the Philippines' rights to the West Philippine Sea, said former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, who led the country's team in the arbitration case filed against China in The Hague in 2013.
In 2016, the arbitral court ruled to invalidate China's 9-dash-line map that claimed most of the South China Sea.
President Rodrigo Duterte has refused to enforce the ruling as he sought friendlier economic and political ties with Asia's largest economy.
"We should have this fora so that our people can be educated... It's all about the rule of law and our people are very strong to take a position... We need to convince our government that rule of law begins in the Palace," Del Rosario said.
It is important for Filipinos to educate themselves so they can "educate the rest of the world," Carpio said.
"It is important that we educate ourselves... and in the next elections we raise this issue," he added.