Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said President Rodrigo Duterte is deliberately staying “inutile” on the maritime dispute in the South China Sea, which includes the West Philippine Sea, because he’s beholden to China.
Duterte said he was “inutile” on the issue of the South China Sea during his fifth State of the Nation Address last July.
“[China is] in possession. So what can we do? We have to go to war and I can’t afford it. xxx I’m inutile on that matter, I tell you. And I’m willing to admit it. I cannot do anything,” the President said.
In his August 13 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Carpio said Duterte’s stance on the maritime dispute “shows a captured heart and mind.”
“From the bottom of his heart, Mr. Duterte enthused: ‘I simply love President Xi Jinping.’ From the inner recesses of his mind, Mr. Duterte revealed that China is his protector when President Xi told him: ‘We will not allow you to be taken out from your office.’ This explains Mr. Duterte’s ‘inutile policy,’” he said.
Carpio said Duterte’s hands off policy on the maritime dispute shows his “deliberate refusal to perform a constitutional duty” and “a deliberate refusal to assert the arbitral Award that the Philippines won against China.”
“While the Award affirmed that the Philippines has a full EEZ in the WPS, this ‘inutile policy’ is a clear signal to China that the Philippines’ EEZ in the WPS is open for the taking of China,” Carpio said.
The retired Supreme Court magistrate said Duterte’s “inutile” also policy sends a signal to the Armed Forces that Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea is not worth defending.
In addition, Carpio said Duterte’s stand on the issue “is a slap on the face of the Filipino people.”
“The Filipino people know that there are many peaceful and non-aggressive means, fully compliant with international law, in enforcing the Award without going to war with China. We all know that our own Constitution and the UN Charter prohibit resorting to war to enforce the Award. War is not an option and has never been an option,” he said.
Carpio said Duterte’s views on the maritime dispute tells naval powers like US, UK and Japan that the Philippines doesn’t welcome their freedom of navigation and overflight operations in the West Philippine Sea since it would offend China.
The President’s views also shows that the Philippines isn’t one with its Southeast Asian neighbors in resisting China’s encroachment of their exclusive economic zones (EEZs), the former Supreme Court justice added.