SUPREME Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Tuesday lauded the landmark decision rendered by an international tribunal at The Hague that invalidated China’s massive claims on the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.
Carpio, a strong advocate of the Philippine claims over the West Philippine Sea, said the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Netherlands “reaffirms mankind’s faith in the rule of law in peacefully resolving disputes between states and in rejecting the use or threat of force in resolving such disputes.”
“The ruling also reaffirms Unclos [UN Convention on the Law of the Sea] as the Constitution for the oceans of our planet, a treaty ratified by 167 states, including China and the Philippines,” the justice said.
The ruling applies the principle that “land dominates the sea,” meaning any claim to maritime zones must emanate from land and can extend only to the limits prescribed under the Unclos.
He said no state can claim almost an entire sea contrary, to this fundamental principle and maritime limits.
“The ruling further reaffirms the wisdom of the Philippine Constitution in renouncing war as an instrument of national policy, and in adopting international law as part of the laws of Philippines,” he added.
“The ruling manifests the faithful compliance by the Philippine government to the Philippine Constitution, which mandates that the “state shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens,” the magistrate said.
Carpio has been on the forefront of the government’s claim over the West Philippine Sea.
A party-list lawmaker on Tuesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to convene the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) to discuss the sea dispute between Philippines and China.
Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque said the issue is not just for the executive branch to resolve but also the legislative branch of government.
“Do not exclude Congress. I call on the President to convene the Ledac, as this is not just an issue of foreign affairs,” Roque said.
Roque faulted the administration of President Benigno Aquino III for abandoning diplomatic talks with the Chinese government.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay earlier said that despite the favorable ruling from the international court, the Duterte administration is open to sharing natural resources with China.
Yasay added that the administration can begin direct talks with China to negotiate the possible joint exploration of natural gas reserves and fishing grounds within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
But Roque, an international law expert, said an agreement to share natural resources could not be implemented as Yasay could not just execute his idea without approval by the Senate or a law enacted by Congress.
Incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez welcomed Tuesday’s decision and urged China to respect the outcome of the arbitration process.
“The case filed by the Philippine government before the Arbitral Court is premised on our stand that we are entitled to a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [Unclos]. China, we must point out, is a signatory to Unclos. Thus, because of our EEZ, we should be allowed to conduct exploration activities in the area for our own economic benefit,” he said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the favorable ruling “strengthens and solidifies the Philippine position in future bilateral talks with China, especially now that her expansionist 9-dash line theory is declared without legal, historical and moral basis.”
Zarate also called on the international community to step in and pressure China to de-escalate the situation in the West Philippine Sea and to stop militarizing the area.
Senator Grace Poe called the decision a legal and moral victory.
Other senators, including Franklin Drilon, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Joel Villanueva and Antonio Trillanes IV also welcomed the decision.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian challenged Duterte to defend the West Philippine Sea from further intrusions by China.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan on Tuesday urged Duterte to resist any pressure from China.
More than 100 members of the group trooped to the Chinese Embassy in Makati to protest China’s nine-dash line policy.
The leftist League of Filipino Students, meanwhile, slammed Yasay for offering a sharing of resources with China, and for saying the Philippines had no authority over international waters.
“This is unacceptable. It is a treacherous remark,” said LFS national spokesperson JP Rosos. With Vito Barcelo, Sandy Araneta