“Unfortunately, under UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), only governments can take action before an UNLCOS tribunal, before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS),” retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said today, June 8 during Atin ang Pinas webinar hosted by Senator Risa Hontiveros.
“Our fishermen can talk to our government and other people of the world. Only governments are heard before an UNCLOS tribunal, before the ITLOS,” Carpio explained. “That is the limitation that we are facing.”
He said that the West Philippine Sea issue should be raised as 2022 election issue. “Vote for a candidate who will assert the arbitral ruling, who will support and defend our fishermen, the rights of our fishermen in Scarborough Shoal. So we have to make this as an election issue in 2022,” he said.
“The Vietnamese government and the Malaysian government are now willing to sign an agreement with the Philippine government that in the Spratlys, no geologic features that generate an EEZ, all territorial seas,” Carpio said. “That would be in consonance with the ruling if we sign that agreement. We actually fortify the ruling. But our own government does not want to sign that because that will displease China.”
“Our problem today is that our own government simply does not want to displease China,” he noted. “We must vote for a government that will assert and preserve our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.”