Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio will not abandon his position against the policy of the Duterte administration on the territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea even if it costs him a possible appointment should the Senate impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Carpio said he will not waver in his stand that the government should protest China’s actions on areas in the WPS, which were already declared part of Philippine territory by a United Nations arbitral tribunal.
“I may lose a possible chief justice appointment, but that’s a small price to pay for defending our maritime zones,” Carpio said in a television interview.
“If we do not defend our maritime area, may we lose it forever... I’m about to retire next year. I’m just trying to finish my work and defend our maritime zones,” he added.
Carpio said the government should fight for its rights on disputed territories and take appropriate actions against China before the proper international bodies.
He also clarified that the ownership issue over areas in the WPS, including Recto Bank, had already been resolved in favor of the Philippines.
The senior associate justice stressed it is not correct to refer to the WPS areas as disputed.
Carpio, who was part of the legal team that pursued the Philippines’ ownership of the disputed areas in WPS before the arbitration court, earlier said that WPS refers to the body of water consisting of the Philippines’ territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, and extended continental shelf. Parts of this area falls within China’s nine-dash-line.
“The legal ownership is not disputed anymore, so we should not say that the area is disputed because the moment that you say that the area is disputed, China will say ‘You see, it’s still disputed,’” Carpio said.
“Don’t say that because the tribunal has already ruled with finality. There’s no appeal. We’re the owners of the resources there. There is no legal dispute as to the ownership of oil, fish, and gas. It belongs exclusively to the Philippines. The only problem is how to get China to comply,” the acting chief justice added.