The senior Supreme Court justice says: ‘There is only one power on earth that can stop the Chinese from poaching in our exclusive economic zone. That is the US.’
MANILA, Philippines – One of the legal luminaries who led Manila’s successful case against Beijing’s maritime claims said President Rodrigo Duterte should be made to understand the necessity of sending patrols to protect the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio was the guest of honor on Tuesday, October 11, at the closing ceremony of the “last” war games between the Philippines and its treaty ally the United States.
“There is a provision in the Constitution that the state shall protect its EEZ. The Constitution says the armed forces is responsible for protecting the national territory. Who is the head of the armed forces? The President,” Carpio said.
The Philippines and the US used to hold passing exercises in disputed waters, but President Duterte had said he wants these stopped. He initially said he did not want to upset Beijing, but later used ties with China to emphasize his desire to cut ties with Washington.
Carpio warned, however: “There is only one power on earth that can stop the Chinese from poaching in our EEZ. That is the US.”
He said failing to patrol the EEZ endangers the Malampaya gas field, a vital energy source. He said the country will also lose billions in pesos worth of fish to poachers. (READ: China reclamation poses P4.8 billion economic loss for PH)
“I think if you will explain properly, he will understand,” the justice said of Duterte.
At the ceremony on Tuesday, Carpio presented maps of the West Philippine Sea, explaining to the marines the boundaries of Philippine territory based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. (READ: Top Philippine judge uses Chinese maps vs China)
It is important for naval powers to assert freedom of navigation in the area, he said.
The Philippine-US Amphibious Landing Exercises (Phiblex) war games held this week was exclusive to the marines.
The Philippine Marines are the ones manning the country’s naval posts in the West Philippine Sea. – Rappler.com