Can UN order China to surrender sea claims? – Duterte to Carpio
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has a question for retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who has been staunchly defending the country’s rights to the West Philippine Sea (WPS): “If the United Nations will ask China to surrender because of that award given to us, will China give it?”
Duterte posed the question during a pre-recorded briefing that aired Monday night. It was his way of responding to calls by netizens and several active and retired government officials to assert Philippine sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea where 220 Chinese Maritime Militia ships had been found staying at the Julian Felipe Reef, which is part of the country’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
According to Duterte, Carpio would not be able to use the Philippines’ victory against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Netherlands in 2016 — which invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim — as the Asian superpower would simply set it aside.
“That’s the problem: Can the United Nations compel China? And do you think China will just give it freely because of the United Nations’ demand?” Duterte said, speaking partly in Filipino.
Duterte then pinned the blame on former President Benigno Aquino III’, saying that the construction of structures in the disputed islands started under his administration.
“That’s what I don’t understand about Carpio: He’s a dreamer. And besides, his boss… the constructive occupation of China happened during the Aquino administration,” Duterte said. “There was one [Chinese] boat there. We sent one. There was a standoff that was maybe going to a violent stage. You know, the one who sent us away from there was America.”
“The agreement was that the Philippines would retreat, China would retreat. What China did was it did not retreat. The Philippines retreated,“ he went on. “Remember that, Carpio. You keep talking. The constructive occupation was completed. It was a notice to the world that they did not leave, that we were the one who left.”
Duterte was referring to the construction and reclamation activities that started before 2015, as pointed out by several reports. However, the Philippines protested against the construction — which eventually resulted in the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling.
Despite construction starting before his term, Duterte has also been criticized for supposedly allowing construction activities to flourish — with a group recently claiming that China was actually using Philippine soil to build artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea.
The latest issue over the WPS stemmed from reports by the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) last March 21 and April 13 that there were Chinese Maritime Militia ships — and not fishing vessels as previously claimed by Chinese authorities — near the Julian Felipe Reef.
Earlier, Duterte said that there was no other recourse over the maritime dispute but war, saying that he would not be willing to go to war as it would exact a great cost on the coutnry.
This is not the first time that the country has had problems over WPS, and the Department of Foreign Affairs has lodged numerous diplomatic protests over the issue since then.
As a suggestion, Carpio said that the government should explore the possibility of building structures within the exclusive economic zone to strengthen the country’s defense
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