Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said, in an article published on opinion.inquirer.net August 6, that the Filipino people should “vigorously” reject President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that China is “in possession” of the West Philippine Sea.
“All professional, civic, social, political, student, and alumni organizations, and all Filipino citizens, should storm Malacañang with statements and text messages: China is not, and will never be, in possession of the WPS. This is the moment for all Filipinos to unite in defense of Philippine sovereign rights in the WPS,” he said noting that the President’s statement has ramifications.
“The [WPS] is a part of the SCS, which is the larger sea. The WPS comprises the territorial sea, exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and extended continental shelf (ECS) of the Philippines, waters and resources over which the Philippines has sovereignty or sovereign rights,” he explained.
Carpio quoted a portion of the 2012 award by the Artbitral Tribunal’s 2012 award, “The Tribunal is unable to identify any evidence that would suggest that China historically regulated or controlled fishing in the South China Sea, beyond the limits of the territorial sea. xxx With respect to the seabed, the Tribunal does not see any historical activity that could have been restricted or controlled, and correspondingly no basis for a historic right.”
“Mr. Duterte directly contradicts the Award which ruled that China never controlled the SCS,” Carpio said.
“For Mr. Duterte to say that China is “in possession” of Philippine EEZ and ECS in the WPS is to concede to China more rights than what international law or the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) grants to any state,” he added.
He also explained that “under the international law doctrine of unilateral declarations, the statements of the President can bind the Philippines that China is ‘in possession’ of the WPS.”
“The Department of Foreign Affairs should immediately issue a clarification that China is in fact not in possession, and legally can never be in possession, of the WPS. The Senate and the House of Representatives should pass resolutions declaring that China is not in possession of the WPS,” Carpio said.