Carpio wants Obama named 'defender of West Philippine Sea'

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday called for Philippine recognition of US President Barack Obama for reminding China to comply with the arbitral ruling on the South China Sea, part of which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.

Carpio nominated Obama for the highest Philippine award to name him "defender of the West Philippine Sea," according to a report from The STAR. According to the Official Gazette, Chief Commander of the Philippine Legion of Honor "is the highest honor that the President of the Philippines may grant an individual without the concurrence of Congress." The honor has been awarded to US Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower.

But Carpio may have been referring to the Order of Sikatuna, which is third in order of precedence according to the Honors Code of the Philippines. The award, which has six ranks and is "conferred upon individuals who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services to the Republic of the Philippines, upon diplomats, officials and nationals of foreign states who have rendered conspicuous services in fostering, developing and strengthening relations between their country and the Philippines."

US Presidents Eisenhower and George W. Bush have been conferred the rank of Raja in the Order of Lakandula, according to the Official Gazette.

Obama raised the South China Sea dispute during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-US meeting in Vientiane, Laos earlier this week.

"The landmark arbitration ruling in July, which is binding, helped to clarify maritime rights in the region," Obama told Southeast Asian leaders.

READ: Obama: US will continue to push for peaceful settlement of disputes

The American president expressed his country's commitment to working to ensure that the maritime dispute in the contested waters will be resolved in a peaceful manner.

"I recognize this raises tensions but I also look forward to discussing how we can constructively move forward together to lower tensions and promote diplomacy and stability," Obama said.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration earlier ruled that China's historic claims over the South China Sea does not have legal basis.

China, however, refused to respect the decision of the arbitral tribunal and insisted that they have indisputable sovereignty over the contested waters.

RELATED: Philippines, China push for framework of code of conduct in South China Sea

Critics of the US, including China and Philippine activist groups, say that it is interfering in the South China Sea despite not being involved in the dispute for its own interests.

RELATED: Bayan hopes Duterte's 'assertion of sovereignty' leads to scrapping of EDCA, VFA

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