Former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is rallying Filipinos to push President Duterte to fight for their sovereign and economic rights in the West Philippine Sea.
During a recent webinar entitled “Patriyotiko: Fight for Filipino Sovereignty” in which he was the guest speaker, he said Filipinos are “at fault” if they don’t protest Duterte’s friendly and defeatist remarks on the maritime issues in the hotly disputed region.
“We must tell him that. If he gets away with it because we are not telling him (then) it is our fault…So, it is us who must tell the president. If we don’t tell the president, he will get away with it,” Carpio said.
“Well, it is the fault of the president. He is the chief architect of foreign policy. But what do we do as Filipinos, we must protest,” he stressed.
Among the issues that Carpio believes the Filipinos must protest are when Duterte said that China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea, when he set aside the arbitral award that invalidates Beijing’s nine-dash line, and when he said that he will allow Chinese fishermen in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“We must object. Tell him, you’re wrong,” he said.
The arbitral award validates the Filipinos sovereign rights in the disputed waters.
“You can’t step aside sovereign rights. Sovereign rights belong to the Filipino people,” Carpio pointed out, citing that allowing Chinese fishermen to fish in the West Philippine Sea is also in violation of the Constitution.
“The Constitution says the use and enjoyment of the resources in the Exclusive Economic Cone is reserved exclusively for Filipino citizens,” the former senior associate justice said.
A staunch critic of the Duterte administration’s friendly relations with China on the maritime issues, Carpio hit the President’s defeatist remarks, as well as for saying that he “loves” Chinese President Xi Jinping.
There are many ways that the Philippines can enforce the arbitral award, which was handed down by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague a few weeks after Duterte came to power.
Carpio said the Philippines must join the freedom of navigation operations by the United States and its allies, enter to a joint patrol agreement with the rest of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and file a claim before a United Nations’ Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
The Filipinos must also “tell the president to withdraw his permission.”
“Very simple. Stop the Chinese. The Chinese are saying we are authorized to come here, your president allowed us. We must tell the president to withdraw that permission, retract that statement that you have allowed the Chinese fishermen to go to the West Philippine Sea because our fishermen are suffering,” Carpio said.
The Filipino fishermen’s “livelihood is in danger now,” he stressed, adding that a kilo of galunggong or round scad is priced at P300 “because the Chinese are getting the galunggong in West Philippine Sea and we buy from the Chinese.”
Galunggong used to be the poor man’s fish, but prices have skyrocketed in past months and the common Filipino worker can’t afford to have it anymore for their families.