World’s naval powers enforcing South China Sea tribunal award: Justice Carpio

Acting Chief Justice Antonio T. Carpio, in his keynote at the Kasarinlan Foreign Policy Forum held July 9, said that “a core part” of the award of the tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration regarding South China Sea released July 2016 “is being enforced by the naval powers of the world.”

“The navies of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Canada, India and Japan are sailing and have been sailing in the high seas and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South China Sea to assert freedom of navigation,” Justice Carpio said.

He added that the air forces of US, UK, Australia, and Japan are flying and have been flying to assert freedom of overflight in South China Sea.

“These naval and air operations enforce that part of the Award affirming the existence of high seas and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea. This is the necessary consequence of the naval and air operations of the world’s naval powers in the South China Sea,” he explained.

“Fortunately for the Filipino people, there is clearly enforcement of a core part of the award by the world’s naval powers, even if there is inexplicable reluctance on the part of the Duterte administration to enforce the award,” he said.

“The heavy lifting in the enforcement of the award is being done by the world’s naval powers with practically no support whatsoever from the Philippines, the state that overwhelmingly won the Award and the state that stands to benefit immensely from the enforcement of the award,” he added.

Justice Carpio noted that the maritime area the Philippines won in the arbitration is larger than the combined land area of all the islands of the Philippine archipelago.

“The award issued on July 12, 2016 stands today as the most important decision under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” he said, adding that it extended the global commons in the oceans and seas by denying small islands with extended continental shelves and EEZs.

He added that among the most important aspects of the award is the ruling that China cannot use the so-called historic nine-dash line as legal basis to claim any part of South China Sea waters and resources.

“For the Philippines, the award means the Philippines has a full 200 nautical-mile exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea excluding the territorial seas of the islands, high-tide rocks, which remain in dispute since UNCLOS has no jurisdiction over territorial or sovereignty issues,” he explained.