Why the Unclos is important to the West Philippine Sea dispute
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has warned of potential repercussions should the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) decide that it has no jurisdiction on the case filed by the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute against China.
“If we don’t apply the Unclos, the constitution for the ocean and seas of our planet cannot also apply to any maritime dispute in the rest of the oceans and seas of the world,” he said at a forum sponsored by the Department of National Defense on the West Philippine Sea at Camp Aguinaldo on Wednesday.
“It will be the beginning of the end of Unclos. The rule of naval canon will prevail in the oceans and seas of our planet. There will be a naval arms race among coastal countries. It is happening now, just imagine if the tribunal says we don’t have jurisdiction, the nine-dash line is valid,” he added.
The Philippines presented to the international arbitral tribunal early this month its arguments whether The Hague has jurisdiction of the maritime case of the Philippines on China’s excessive claims. The decision will take at least 90 days.
China has repeatedly refused to participate in the proceedings.
The case was filed in 2013 after the standoff in 2012 when Chinese vessels made their presence felt in Panatag (Scarborough Shoal) in Zambales. China has built artificial islands in seven reefs in the Spratlys in recent months.
“The only way we can protect ourselves is to acquire warships, warplanes, antiship missiles, resources that should go to education, infrastructure, and social services will have to be reallocated to defense. No matter how many warships we buy, we cannot defeat China. We can only hope to deter China but there is no way we can win a total war. So it’s totally useless if the tribunal says there is no jurisdiction, the nine-dash lines prevailed, then there’s no law of the sea anymore,” Carpio said.
China’s nine-dash line in their maps claims that almost the whole of South China Sea belongs to them.
“Every nation will have to arm itself but that’s not enough to resolve the dispute. It will just worsen the dispute and judges in the tribunal will be out of job because nobody will follow the law of the sea anymore [if the Unclos is not applied],” Carpio said.
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