China 'delaying' sea code of conduct until reclamation is complete: Carpio

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2020 12:01 PM

A Philippine naval personnel stands on guard during the arrival of missile destroyer USS Chung Hoon (DDG-93) before the US-Philippine joint naval military exercise entitled 'Cooperation Afloat Readiness Training' (CARAT) near the disputed Spratly islands, in Puerto Princesa on the western Philippine island of Palawan on June 28, 2011. Noel Celis, AFP/File

MANILA -- Beijing may keep "delaying" the code of conduct until it completes its reclamation and militarization of the South China Sea, including parts of Philippine territory, retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio claimed Monday.

"The Code of Conduct should have been started in 2002 and it’s over 18 years now because China has been dragging its feet. China has been delaying it because China wants to sign the Code of Conduct after it has completed its reclamation, its artificial island-building, after it has militarized all the artificial islands," he told ANC. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin has said he will push for naval powers outside the region to be included in the code of conduct, and for it to cite the 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated Beijing's claim to the West Philippine Sea, noted Carpio. 

"If these 2 conditions are not there, there is no point in signing the Code of Conduct," he said. 

However, Carpio said he was "not optimistic" that Beijing would agree to the award's inclusion in the accord because this would mean "they accept the arbitral ruling."

If the accord fails to mention the arbitral award, China could claim that other Asian nations support its supposed historic rights to the waterway Carpio warned. 

"They will use it against us. That’s why we have to insist,” he added. 

Carpio was part of the legal team that defended the Philippines’ case before the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration.