MANILA - Foreign policy does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the national security chief said Tuesday amid Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio's recent remarks on the West Philippine Sea.
"The exercise of foreign policy is not through the Supreme Court. I think the honorable justice is a member of the Supreme Court, not of the executive branch that pursues foreign policy," National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon told reporters.
Carpio, a long-time advocate of the Philippines' maritime rights in the disputed waters, on Monday said China was not in possession of the disputed sea, countering President Rodrigo Duterte's remark in his fourth State of the Nation Address.
Esperon, however, clarified that the President said China was "in position" in the disputed waters, instead of "in possession."
"I think the President did not say that they (China) are in possession, but that they are in position," he said.
The Philippines' relations with other nations does not "start and end with the West Philippine Sea," Esperon said.
The West Philippine Sea is the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, which China claims in near entirety.
"We have other things to do, especially on trade defense, science, and people-to-people exchange, tourism," he said.
"Marami tayong iba pang titingnan kaya yan ang binabalanse ng Pangulo. Kaya nga siya ang naturingan na prime architect of foreign policy."
(We have to consider other things which are being balanced by the President. That is why he is the prime architect of foreign policy.)
The Philippines under the Duterte administration has chosen to set aside a 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling that invalidated China's sweeping claims in the disputed sea in favor of enhanced ties.