Duterte violates Constitution for failure to defend sovereignty in West PH Sea — Carpio

Published June 19, 2021, 7:17 PM

by Raymund Antonio

President Duterte’s national security and foreign policy strategies have violated the Philippine Constitution as they failed to “defend our sovereignty and national territory from foreign threats and invasion,” retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice and opposition coalition 1Sambayan convenor Antonio Carpio said on Saturday, June 19.

Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (1Sambayan/Facebook)

In his closing remarks during 1Sambayan’s National Security and Foreign Policy town hall meeting entitled “Determining Our National Security and Foreign Policy 2022 and Beyond,” Carpio stressed that the President has failed both as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and as the chief architect of the country’s foreign policy for not defending the Philippines’ sovereignty, sovereign rights, and territorial integrity in the West Philippine Sea.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the President is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and the person responsible to craft the country’s foreign policy.

“Our President Duterte discharged the functions of these two important positions,” Carpio said, adding that the Constitution was designed to ensure “coherence, uniformity, and effectiveness in safeguarding the national security of the state.”

But Duterte’s policies, remarks, and pronouncements on the maritime issues between the Philippines and China that “constitute its national security and foreign policy strategy obviously violate the very Constitution he has sworn to uphold.”

“These pronouncements concede our island territories and sovereign rights in the WPS to China. This defeatist national security and foreign policy of President Duterte must be reversed at the soonest possible time before more damage is inflicted on our national sovereignty, national territory, and sovereign rights,” the retired SC justice said.

Carpio pointed out several instances showing that the President failed in his duty to protect the Philippines from foreign threats.

“First, President Duterte announced the setting aside of the arbitral award that recognized Philippines’ sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea in favor of loans and investments from China. Less than 5 percent of those loans and investments have materialized,” he said.

On May 6, the Chief Executive said the Philippines’ arbitral win against China in the maritime dispute was “a mere piece of paper that can be thrown away in a trash bin.”

READ: Arbitral ruling on West PH Sea just a scrap of paper, Duterte says

Critics called him out for the remarks that can only disregard the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which China violates despite the Arbitral Award from The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) that invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims in the region.

Carpio argued that the country’s 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was “larger than the total land area.”

And although the Chief Executive announced an independent foreign policy that he said is neither pro-West or pro-China, the 1Sambayan convenor said that “he would align Philippines to the ideological flow of China.”

In October 2016, Duterte announced the Philippines’ “separation” from the United States in both “military” and “economics.”

Carpio also lamented Duterte’s instruction to the Philippine Navy “to patrol in the West Philippine Sea only up to our territorial sea and stop patrolling in our EEZ.”

READ: Duterte: Dispatch of PH ships to West PH Sea does not mean war with China is imminent

This, he said, is “in clear violation of the Constitution” that mandates the President to “protect the nation’s wealth in its Exclusive Economic Zone.”

In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2019, Duterte defended his decision to allow Chinese fishermen in the country’s EEZ, saying that it will prevent a war with China.

At one point in March this year, there were nearly 200 Chinese paramilitary vessels in the Julian Felipe Reef, which is part of the country’s EEZ.

Duterte also believes that Chinese President Xi Jinping will “protect him from ouster as president of the Philippines in case of rebellion, coup d’etat, or mutiny by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

Carpio said this is indirectly allowing the Chinese People’s Liberation Army “to intervene in Philippine internal affairs.”

He stressed that reversing these statements and defeatist remarks will be a “monumental task that all patriotic Filipinos must now undertake.”