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Duterte wrong on China non-invasion – Carpio

President Rodrigo Duterte misstated in Beijing that China never has invaded any part of Philippine territory. This was pointed out last week by Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio Carpio. For, China did grab Scarborough Shoal in 2012.

Expert in international law, Carpio called on the government immediately to correct Duterte’s history lapse, lest it be taken against the Philippines. The jurist extensively has researched the South China Sea dispute, and was among those who brought the Philippine case for UN arbitration. The UN court has rubbished China’s alleged right to occupy Scarborough, off the coast of Luzon and well outside China’s territorial or economic zone waters.

Following is Carpio’s lament:

“President Duterte is quoted in the Channel News Asia’s article, “Philippines’ Duterte Praises China on Beijing Visit,” posted in its website on 19 October 2016. The statements of President Duterte as quoted in the article must be corrected to avoid serious damage to the Philippines.

“In referring to China’s relation with the Philippines, President Duterte is quoted in the article as saying: ‘It (China) has never invaded a piece of my country all these generations.’  This is incorrect. In 2012 China physically seized and in effect invaded Scarborough Shoal, which is defined as Philippine Territory under Republic Act No. 9522 (Amended Definitions of the Archipelagic Baseline of the Philippines). RA 9522 states that the Philippines has ‘sovereignty and jurisdiction’ over Scarborough Shoal. In 1995 China seized from the Philippines Mischief Reef, which is part of the submerged continental shelf of the Philippines as affirmed by the Tribunal’s Final Award of July 12, 2016.

“All ancient maps of the Chinese dynasties show Hainan Island as the southernmost territory of China. There is no ancient Chinese map showing Scarborough Shoal or the Spratlys as part of Chinese territory.  Ancient maps of the Philippines show that Scarborough Shoal has been Philippine territory since 1636, and the Spratlys were part of the Philippines since at least 1690. On 29 September 1932, China officially declared to the world, in a Note Verbale to France, that China’s southernmost territory were the Paracels, moving a little further south its southernmost border.  Even then, it meant that Chinese territory never included Scarborough Shoal or the Spratlys.

“Regarding the Tribunal’s Final Award, President Duterte is quoted in the article as saying: ‘The arbitral award gives us the right; China has the historical right.’ That is incorrect. The UNCLOS Tribunal at The Hague concluded: ‘The Tribunal sees no evidence that, prior to the Convention, China ever established a historic right to the exclusive use of the living and nonliving resources of the waters of the South China Sea, whatever use it may historically have made of the Spratlys Islands themselves.’ The Tribunal explained that China’s uses in the past of the South China Sea beyond its territorial seas, through fishing by Chinese fishermen and sailing by its merchant ships and navy, were uses of high seas freedom, just like the uses of the South China Sea by other states. The South China Sea was never exclusively used by China, in the past or now.

“These statements by President Duterte must be corrected lest China claim, quoting him, that Scarborough Shoal is not Philippine territory and that the Philippines recognizes China’s historic rights to the South China Sea, a claim the Philippine government already successfully refuted as false before the Hague Tribunal. Under international law, unilateral statements of a head of state can bind the state and can be taken against such state in an arbitration between such state and another disputant state; thus the need for the government to issue immediately a correction, lest these statements of President Duterte bind the Philippines.”

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Agrarian Reform Sec. Rafael Mariano accuses the Cojuangco clan of non-payment of P1.3 billion to thousands of workers of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. Ironically however, those workers say it is Mariano’s fault that they haven’t been paid the amount due them.

The Supreme Court has ruled with finality that the Cojuangcos must pay the P1.3 billion, from the sale of 500 hectares of Hacienda Luisita as an industrial estate and the expropriation of 83 hectares to construct the South Luzon Expressway. The SC ordered the Dept. of Agrarian Reform to initiate the audit of the exact amount to be paid to the workers, minus administrative costs incurred by the Cojuangcos’ Hacienda Luisita. The workers say Mariano has not commenced the audit although the SC has designated the three auditing firms. Instead, Mariano reportedly is entertaining the petition of a handful of workers to reverse the conversion of agricultural land to industrial estate.

The workers say such reversion is no longer possible since the SC has deemed legal the sale of the industrial estate. What is left to be done is for Mariano to junk the petition, proceed with the audit to determine the exact amount, and finally, distribute the cash to the beneficiaries.

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