The most senior magistrate in the Supreme Court and a nominee to the top judicial post said yesterday he has no plans of changing his position on the issue even if it clashes with that of the Duterte administration, which has opted not to challenge Beijing’s expansive claim in the South China Sea.
Carpio won’t change West Philippine Sea stance to get chief justice post
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio is not softening his stance on the West Philippine Sea issue while aiming for the top judicial post.

The most senior magistrate in the Supreme Court and a nominee to the top judicial post said yesterday he has no plans of changing his position on the issue even if it clashes with that of the Duterte administration, which has opted not to challenge Beijing’s expansive claim in the South China Sea.

“The President has the prerogative to appoint whoever he wants and I will respect that. But that will not stop me from continuing my advocacy because for me this is more important than anything else,” he stressed in an interview.

Earlier, Carpio called on the Duterte administration to file new protest against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration over an incident involving harassment of Filipino fishermen by Chinese coast guards at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales province.

He suggested that the Philippine government seek damages from China for violation of the PCA ruling in 2016 that declared the shoal a common fishing ground.

Carpio has accepted his automatic nomination for the chief justice post as one of five senior magistrates of the high court.

He reiterated that there is no more reason for him to refuse his nomination for chief justice after earlier declining it following the ouster of chief justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno last June.

He cited the difference between the previous vacancy after Sereno’s ouster and the current vacancy after the retirement of chief justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro last Oct. 10.

“Because in Sereno, my dissenting opinion stated that she could not be removed by quo warranto. So I did not want to benefit from a ruling that I disagreed on. But now in De Castro, this is an expiration of term. There’s no legal issue anymore. That’s why I said there is no reason anymore to decline,” the magistrate explained.

Meanwhile, opposition Rep. Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list said the Duterte administration should act fast and forge an agreement with China as the Philippines’ energy stability would likely depend on its exploration project with Beijing.

Atienza said an arrangement with China is “needed to pave the way for vital Sampaguita gas-to-power project” despite Beijing’s refusal to honor the July 2016 decision of the PCA, which was favorable to Manila.

“The Sampaguita gas discovery is vital to our future energy security. It has become absolutely imperative for us to quickly develop Sampaguita, before Malampaya’s gas production starts to fall off in 2024,” Atienza explained. 

“We really wish that the Philippines and China, through effective diplomacy, can arrive at a mutually acceptable arrangement that would expedite the resumption of all work around Sampaguita,” he said. –  With Delon Porcalla

ANTONIO CARPIO SUPREME COURT WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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