'Specter of war' being used to submit to China's encroachment in EEZ - Carpio
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio defended Saturday a 1987 constitutional provision that requires the State to ensure the resources in the country's waters are for the exclusive use of Filipinos, a provision that President Duterte earlier described as "thoughtless and senseless."
Speaking at the University of the Philippines College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Recognition Rites, Carpio said the Constitution mandates that the use and enjoyment of the country's marine wealth in its exclusive economic zone shall be reserved exclusively for the Filipino people.
"The 'use and enjoyment' of these resources cannot be shared with, or given away, to foreign nationals," he said in his remarks.
He added: "This exclusivity is not a 'thoughtless and senseless' provision in our Constitution as President Rodrigo Duterte has unfortunately characterized."
He said even China, which is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, "reserves all the natural resources in its own EEZ exclusively to Chinese citizens."
"Why will we not accept and protect this exclusivity when the rest of the world is accepting and protecting this exclusivity? Surely, this exclusivity in the use and enjoyment of the resources in the EEZs, being the accepted norm in all civilized states of the world without exception, is not 'thoughtless and senseless,'" Carpio said.
The Supreme Court magistrate warned the "specter of war" is being used to bully Filipinos to submit to China's intrusion in the country's EEZ.
"Only a fool will go to war with China. It is clear that the specter of war is being raised only to intimidate the Filipino people into submitting to China’s encroachment of our EEZ," he said.
He warned: "If we fail to protect our territorial integrity in the West Philippine Sea and lose it to China, we will lose our Exclusive Economic Zone in the West Philippine Sea forever. There is no recovery once we lose this huge maritime area to China."
President Duterte has come under fire for saying he will not stop Chinese fishermen from poaching in the EEZ of the Philippines.
This, after he said he will not risk military conflict with China over a boat-ramming incident that left 22 Filipino fishermen at sea.
The President has also called Carpio "so stupid" for saying Chinese fishermen are not allowed to exhaust the Philippines’ resources in its exclusive economic zone.
“Sabi ko nga, ‘Alam mo, Justice Carpio, napaka-estupido mo.’ That is why hanggang diyan ka lang talaga. He’s from Davao. Basta noon pa, hindi ako bilib diyan buang na ’yan,” Duterte said in a speech during the 122nd anniversary of the Presidential Security Group at Malacañang.
In his remarks, Carpio noted the Philippines did not need to go to war to protect the country's sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.
Instead, he said the Philippines sent lawyers to The Hague to protect the country's territorial integrity by invalidating China’s nine-dashed line before an arbitral tribunal under UNCLOS.
"We brought the resolution of the dispute to a forum where warships, warplanes, missiles and nuclear bombs do not count, and where the dispute would be resolved only in accordance with the rule of law. And we won an overwhelming victory," he said.
"We thus protected our territorial integrity through the rule of law.
We should therefore continue resorting to the rule of law in protecting our territorial integrity in the West Philippine Sea."
Carpio, a staunch advocate of Manila’s rights in the West Philippine Sea, is the most senior member of the Supreme Court.
On Thursday the Office of the Solicitor General asked the Supreme Court to inhibit Carpio from participating in the writ of kalikasan petition on the disputed West Philippine Sea due to his "personal bias and manifest partiality." The writ is in response to a petition seeking protection of the marine environment in the disputed West Philippine Sea.