Retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio warned that China could attack Philippine territory due amid the incident in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
He also said that the sentiment of other ASEAN countries is clear which is why they endorsed the Philippines’ historic victory in the Permanent Court of Arbitration of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) against China in the West Philippine Sea.
“More and more countries are recognizing the arbitral award and supporting its compliance by China and the Philippines,” Carpio said in an international online forum.
“These countries have realized that if UNCLOS cannot apply in the West Philippine Sea, then their more powerful neighbors may also claim that UNCLOS does not apply also to their near seas.”
Carpio further stressed that the West Philippine Sea remains an important issue for Filipinos especially now that the next presidential elections are approaching.
“An overwhelming majority of Filipinos, consistently over 80 percent in SWS (Social Weather Stations) surveys since 2016, want the arbitral award enforced. The Filipino people understand that all the fish, oil, gas, and other mineral resources in our exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea belong exclusively to the Philippines, ”said Carpio.
All leading presidential candidates for the May 2022 elections say they will uphold the Hague ruling, except for Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. who said the country cannot uphold the Hague ruling because China has not been heard in arbitration.
“The arbitration is no longer an arbitration if there’s only one party. So, it’s no longer available to us,” Marcos said.
This is also the view of President Rodrigo Duterte on the Hague ruling. Since 2016, the influx of Chinese maritime militia vessels has continued to the country’s Hope and Julian Felipe reefs.
As one of the country’s delegates to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, Carpio denied that the Chinese side was not heard in the arbitral tribunal. According to Carpio, as a party to UNCLOS, China sent their position paper at that time.
Carpio fears that China’s occupation of Philippine territory may be put on hold if the next President-elect becomes cowardly. He said the candidates in the May 2022 elections need to be enlightened about the various challenges to the country’s security and sovereignty, especially as China and Russia are gradually showing strength in the region. ###