MANILA (UPDATE) – Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Tuesday inhibited from deliberations on the petition for Writ of Kalikasan filed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and fishermen from Palawan and Zambales.
"There is no compulsory ground to inhibit, but I voluntarily inhibited for the peace of mind of the SolGen," Carpio said.
Carpio’s inhibition comes on the same day the High Court will hear oral arguments on the Writ of Kalikasan petition.
Solicitor General Jose Calida on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to inhibit Carpio from participating in the petition, citing “personal bias and manifest partiality” as shown by Carpio’s “active participation in the South China Sea (SCS) Arbitral Proceedings” and his “continuing public pronouncements against the actions taken by the government in relation to the SCS Arbitral Award.”
Carpio, a known critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s stance on the West Philippine Sea and the country’s dealings with China, earlier earned the ire of the chief executive 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 last week.
(I told Justice Carpio, “You’re so stupid.” That’s why you’ll never be more than what you are now. I have never been impressed with that lunatic.)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo on Tuesday said Carpio’s voluntary inhibition is a “personal choice” saying the magistrate wouldn’t have inhibited “if he doesn’t feel it’s proper.”
In March, Carpio warned China could seize patrimonial assets such as oil and gas in the Recto (Reed) Bank in case the Philippines fails to pay its loan obligations for the Chico and Kaliwa Dam projects.
Reacting to the Recto Bank incident where 22 Filipino fishermen were left swimming in open seas after their vessel was allegedly rammed by a Chinese fishing vessel, Carpio claimed China’s maritime militia are trained, equipped and organized by the Navy of China’s People’s Liberation Army and have vessels with reinforced steel hulls meant for ramming vessels of other coastal states.
Over the weekend, he raised doubts on whether China can be considered the country’s friend given its actions in the West Philippine Sea.
-with a report from Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News