Be careful on sea row, Carpio tells Duterte


PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte should be careful with his public pronouncements on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute and assert, not undermine, the Philippines’ claims, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has said.

Carpio agreed that the Philippines could not afford to go to war with China but stressed that the President possessed the constitutional duty as commander in chief of the Armed Forces to assert the country’s rights over the contested waters.

The magistrate – who helped build the country’s case in an international arbitration case against China on the maritime dispute that was resolved in favor of the Philippines in July 2016 – made the statement in reaction to the President’s remarks that he won’t stop China from building structures at the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal as the Philippines could not afford to go war.

“We cannot stop China from doing this thing. The Americans cannot even stop them from doing so. My point to China is, do not do anything to my coast guard if they go there. Because they (China) claim to own it, I claim it to be mine. In the meantime, just keep it open and don’t touch my coast guard,” Duterte said on Sunday before leaving for a state visit to Myanmar.

The President can fulfill his constitutional duty, Carpio said, by doing any, some or all of the following:

• file a strong formal protest against Chinese building activity;

• send the Philippine Navy to patrol Panatag Shoal;

• ask the US to declare Panatag Shoal part of Philippine territory for purposes of the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty, since the shoal has been part of Philippine territory even during the American colonial period;

• accept the standing US offer to hold joint naval patrols in the West Philippine Sea, including Panatag Shoal, to
prevent China from building on it; and

• avoid any act, statement or declaration that expressly or impliedly waives Philippine sovereignty to any Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.

Carpio said filing a protest was “the least that the President should do.”

“This is what the Vietnamese did recently when China sent cruise tours to the disputed Paracels,” Carpio said.
He noted that the US had declared the Senkakus as part of Japanese territory for purposes of the US-Japan mutual defense treaty.

In case the Chinese attack Philippine Navy vessels, the Philippine government should invoke the Philippines-US Mutual defense Treaty which covers any armed attack on Philippine Navy vessels operating in the South China Sea, Carpio said.

Asserting the Philippines’ claims “will preserve for future generations of Filipinos their national patrimony in the West Philippine Sea,” the magistrate said.


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  1. Pensador de Manila on

    Engaging with China in a diplomatic conversion is not going to war: it is making each other interest over the place according to the implementing rule of the Law of the sea. We are there to China not to fight by guns; we are there to talk for the what the Law, the UNCLOS decision is meant for us over the west Philippine Sea. I am not against China; I am happy to see the progress of people to both sides with respect to each other according to the abiding rules on the Law of the Sea; I am simply so against China’s incursion, an open clear insult to Filipinos. And this will all depend on our Philippine leaders who lead the country: first, the president, second the congress and senate and third our justices. Are they reliable leaders? If not, let us all remind them.

  2. Siguradong takbuhan itong mga dilawan na pulitiko at mga elitista sa america at europe.. if the War erupts in the South China or in the Pacific.???.. Ang maiiwan lang dito sa oras magkaroon ng Giyera ay ang Pilipinong may pagmamahal sa bayang Pilipinas. Huwag ng pabalikin ang mga dilawan o mga pilipinong magexile sa ibang bansa oras magkaroon ng war dito sa east asia and pacific..

  3. PDU30 had already sent letter to china regarding the stand of the Philippines at south china sea. Those items mentioned on this article regarding the assertions, that PRRD must do could have been considered in that letter. We all know that our problem in south china was only inherited by PRRD, two administration passed before him so we should not blame PRRD why there was structures being built.

  4. Pensador de Manila on

    Du30 is the most idiot president we ever have had ever since the Republic of the Philippine has been conceived as a nation. Du30 said several times that he would not dare to engage with China on the issue of territorial disputes in the west Philippine sea unless China would declare its entitlement over the sea. But look what China is doing in the west Philippine sea: they have their coastguard presence there, they are planning to build a radar and other China military facilities. Declaration of entitlement is the word that Duterte wants to hear from China. Do you think China will declare it again? China has already declared its entitlement with its statement of 9-line that has eaten up Philippine water. Are you Du30 waiting for more declarations? This is an idiot, idiot, idiot to the maximum. I know Du30 that he has understood the tone of China over the west Philippine as already a declaration of entitlement, but Du30 would rather be a blind and deaf, for Du30 himself has an underground motive to China to invest in the Philippine. China’s investment in exchange of Philippine territory! What kind of a leader is Du30! He even allowed China’s Marine researchers in a very secretive way to explore the other side of Philippine economic zone-Benham rice. Is Du30 for Filipinos? or Is he for the Chinese? There are many investors would like to put their money in the Philippine without the need to sacrifice its territory. I really do not understand DU30 why he is leading Philippine in his ways without the sense of nationalism, integrity, and pride.

  5. carlo estrada on

    Pag nakaroon ng confrontation iyang si Carpio ang dapat iharang sa mga barko ng China, papahamak nya ang magandang relationship ng China at Pilipinas, national interest ang pinahahalagahan ng Presidente ang hindi tayo madamay sa bangaan ng dalawang heganteng bansa. Palibhasa maka amerikano itong sa Carpio. Bakit anong nagawa natin sa PCA rulling na yan, mas lalo hindi nakapunta ang mga mangingisda natin sa scarborough noon, kasama pa ng mga local media natin.

    • Basahin mo ng mabuti ang sinabi ni Carpio. Reading comprehension lang, kapos ka ng konti. War for Carpio is only when it is inevitable, when war is forced on us, when invaders are seizing our lands. You protect your own, no one else will do it for you.

      Wala tayong nagawa sa PCA ruling dahil Duterte ignored it. Wag mong idamay ang ibang Pinoy. Singlehandedly without consulting his cabinet, binasura niya ang ruling ng PCA. Tapos sisisihin mo ang iba sa pagkawala ng mga isla natin? It is Duterte’s in-action regarding the ruling ang dapat mong sisihin.

  6. Sending the Navy to Panatag Shoal would be a provocative action. I will send a wrong signal to the other side of the fence. What if China will send a flotilla of battleships in return, what would be our next action? We cannot invoke the mutual defense treaty with the US until the first shot is fired, meaning only in case of an actual attack. But by then, a full blown war could happen. And where will be the battle ground? Definitely not in China, neither in the USA but in our own backyard. So, to those itching to take a stronger stand against China, can we afford to go to war?

    • So do not be surprised to lose more of our territories. Your behaviour is tantamount to waiving ownership of our lands anyway. A rightful owner defends his own. Full stop.

  7. The president is being practical. He knows that the usa will not come to our help if it means war with china. China is very important to the usa economically. Also if it goes to war with china which also has nuclear weapons, usa and china both lose and russia will be the world power. The usa would not like that. Also the chinese are 1.2 billion people and the usa is 350 million. May matira pa rin chinese after the war.

  8. Someone qouted this following line in another column. “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will still have war.” It was Churchill’s remark after Chamberlain returned from signing the Munich pact with Hitler. Hitler’s Blitzkreg WW2 sure did not spare Europe despite the pact. What really is all about armament or defense initiatives of a country were it not for the inevitability of war? Early on in Duterte’s bravado was for him to ski into Scaborou Shaol and plant the Philippine flag there. He now talks like one totally subdued and tamed by the Chinese. Whatever is up his sleeves, we hope he is just taking a step backwards now so we might be able to move two or three steps forward later.

  9. On foreign policy of the govt a voice like Justice Carpio’s sounds strong and opportune. Du30 needs reminders badly as his words and actions seem to convey non-interest of the govt in declaring categorically what legally belongs to the country and in supporting that declaration with a resolve to defend our sovereign domain.

  10. Like what they said to Senator Lugar then :” walaka sa LUGAR”. This could apply to Justice Carpio. Instead of being a cold-impartial justice, he is acting like a President

  11. Sana nga magkaroon ng linaw ang isipan ni Digong patungkol sa rights natin sa labas ng ating teritoryo. Dapat mag establish sya ng legacy nya in a admirable way keeping in mind the future generation ng ating bansa.
    Hindi yang nag declare kagad ng defeat sa harap pa lang ng threat ng bully na kapitbahay!

  12. florendo abad on

    Thank you sir for telling the president the right thing to do., because all our Tongressman and $enators are all scared to him.

    • pablo sanchez on

      if the U.S. and the Phils will conduct a joint naval patrol, the U.S. will only do it if they will be permitted to build a base in our country and will provoke China. when that happens and war will erupt our country will become a battle ground. do you want that to happen?