Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has warned against the possible loss of the Philippine sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea (WPS) if presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wins in the upcoming elections.
Carpio, known for his fight to assert the country’s territorial rights over the WPS, made his observation based on the pronouncement of Marcos Jr., who supposedly sided with China when it said that it does not recognize the arbitration ruling on the contested waters.
The former associate justice also said Marcos Jr. echoed President Duterte as the latter set aside the arbitral ruling and refused to defend the country’s sovereignty.
In a media forum on Friday, Carpio quoted Marcos Jr. as saying, “I will continue President Duterte’s policy on the West Philippine Sea.”
“But it’s even worse,” he added, “because Marcos Jr. said that that arbitration is no longer arbitration, if there is only one party… Marcos Jr. actually adopts the Chinese position that the arbitration has no legal effect because China did not participate in the arbitration.”
Carpio said Vice President Leni Robredo is more capable in terms of defending the country’s claim over the WPS.
Robredo, a lawyer, will do it not by waging war but by resorting to international law, he said.
“The first thing to do is to get everybody in the area to submit their overlapping claims. We agree to submit this to arbitration. Invite China to join. China will not join. And among ourselves, we have settled already our overlapping claims,” he said.
“And so we have isolated China. We use the rule of law there—UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea],” Carpio added.
He also said the Robredo administration may engage with other countries that have claims over the contested waters and invite the U.S., the European Union, Japan and Australia to support.
“So the world will support us in that convention. So China will be isolated,” he said.
Carpio believed Robredo could do it, regardless of her gender.
“Gender will not matter. It’s all in the head, it’s all in the heart,” he said, “Even if you’re a male, but if you’re a coward [it will do nothing].”
Carpio said that ordinary Filipinos can also do something to protect the country’s claim by not voting for Marcos Jr. in the upcoming elections.
“The answer is simple, if you want to protect the West Philippine Sea, do not vote for Marcos Jr… vote for VP Leni Robredo. And that power is in your hands in three days time,” he added.