MANILA -- Vietnam and Malaysia do not claim waters where the Philippines have exclusive rights over natural resources, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Tuesday, contradicting a remark by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
Cayetano on Monday said Vietnam and Malaysia occupy more islands than China in the West Philippine Sea. He also dismissed calls by critics to stand up against Beijing's incursion over the resource-rich waters.
The Philippines occupies 9 features in the waterway; Malaysia occupies, 5; Vietnam, 21; and China, 8 including Scarborough Shoal locally known as Panatag or 9 features if Sandy Cay is counted, said Carpio.
China, however, claims 80 percent of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea, said Carpio, who is one of the longest serving judges of the Supreme Court.
"Vietnam and Malaysia do not claim any part of Philippine EEZ in the West Philippine Sea. In fact, China is the only country that claims Philippine EEZ in the West Philippine Sea," he said in a text message.
Cayetano earlier said he disagrees with Carpio and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario's stand on the West Philippine Sea. The 2 have repeatedly urged the government to be more assertive against Beijing's territorial claims.
"Sinasabi nila, 'pag hindi ka umangal in public, wala na 'yan. Eh kung totoo 'yun, eh 'di lahat ng nasa Malaysia at Vietnam ngayon, wala na sa atin. Eh we're still claiming that, that's inside our EEZ," he said.
(They said that if you don't protest publicly, we would lose the territory. If that were true, all the features occupied by Malaysia and Vietnam would no longer be ours. We're still claiming that, that's inside our EEZ.)
Rich petroleum reserves are thought to sit deep beneath the waters of the South China Sea, through which roughly $3.4 trillion in shipping passes each year.
President Rodrigo Duterte last week said he will finally raise Manila’s 2016 arbitral victory, which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping maritime claims, when he visits China later this month.