MANILA -- Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio listed for President Rodrigo Duterte several options to enforce Manila's legal victory against Beijing’s environmentally destructive activities in the disputed waters.
Friday marked 3 years since a United Nations-backed court upheld the Philippines' sovereign rights to its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and rejected Beijing’s historic claim to resources in the South China Sea using its nine-dash line doctrine.
Duterte has said the Philippines "can never win a war against China" and largely set aside the Permanent Court of Arbitration's ruling as he courted investments from Beijing.
Carpio, however, said there are "many ways of enforcing the arbitral Award without going to war with China."
"We cannot adopt a defeatist attitude and just sit idly by and let China seize what international law has declared to be our own Exclusive Economic Zone," he said in a speech at the Ateneo Law School's graduation rites.
"We must use our creativity and resourcefulness to defend and protect, through the rule of law, what belongs to the Filipino people – the present generation of Filipinos and the generations of Filipinos still to come," he added.
Among the options enumerated by one of the longest serving high court justices are the following:
Enter into a convention with Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, which have conflicting territorial claims over the South China Sea
The convention can declare that "as ruled by the arbitral tribunal, no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an Exclusive Economic Zone and there are only territorial seas from the geologic features that are above water at high-tide," said Carpio.
"This Convention will leave China isolated as the only disputant state claiming Exclusive Economic Zones from the Spratly islands," he added.
File an extended continental shelf claim in the West Philippine Sea beyond Manila's 200-nautical EEZ off the coast of Luzon
The Philippines can file this unilaterally with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, said the magistrate.
"China cannot invoke historic rights under its nine-dashed line which has already been ruled without legal effect by the arbitral tribunal," he said.
Patrol the West Philippine Sea with 10 new multi-role response vessels donated by Japan
The 44-meter vessels can drive poachers, which will "assert our sovereign rights over this resource-rich maritime area", said Carpio.
Encourage the Freedom of Navigation and Overflight of naval powers like the US, UK, France, Australia, Japan, India and Canada in Philippine waters
Invite Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei to conduct joint freedom of navigation operations in their respective EEZs
Support private sector initiatives to enforce the arbitral award
The "most creative and dramatic" of these initiatives, Carpio said, was the communication that former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales filed against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court.
The communication charged the Chinese leaders of depriving tens of thousands of Filipino fishermen of their source of food and livelihood as a result of China’s massive destruction of the atoll reefs in the Spratlys, noted Carpio.
"The Filipino people should not be intimidated by national leaders who peddle a false option that either we go to war with China or submit to China," he said.
"This false option should be discredited once and for all. This false option does not deserve any further space or airing in the nation’s political discourse," he added.