Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is part of the Philippines' legal team that won the 2016 landmark ruling on the West Philippine Sea.
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Carpio reiterates call to defend West Philippine Sea
(Philstar.com) - June 19, 2019 - 5:04pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 9:18 p.m.) — Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reiterated on Monday the call for Filipinos to continue defending the West Philippine Sea amid developments in the portion of the South China Sea within the country's exclusive economic zone.

In a chance interview with reporters after the oath-taking of Rep. Sarah Elago (Kabataan party-list), Carpio said: “We have to continue defending West Philippine Sea because that’s our duty.”

The statement came a week after a Chinese vessel—which Carpio said is likely a Chinese military vessel, a view not shared by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and the rest of the Duterte Cabinet—sank a Filipino boat and left its 22 crew in the waters of Recto Bank (Reed Bank).

While presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo initially slammed the Chinese’s abandonment of the Filipinos as “inhumane as it is barbaric,” the Palace has since called for caution and has told the public to wait for the results of a formal investigation.

On Wednesday, Panelo claimed the Chinese were not under any obligation to rescue the Filipino fishermen if they felt that doing so would put them in danger.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who usually makes fiery remarks against perceived intrusions on the country's sovereignty, called it a “little maritime accident.”

READ: Carpio: Filipinos must demand compensation, punishment on sinking of Philippine boat

On June 10, the Philippine Coast Guard reported that it spotted a Chinese navy warship, along with coast guard vessels and militia boats, in the vicinity of Scarborough or Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Carpio added: “My generation laid the foundation by winning the arbitral ruling that the West Philippine Sea belongs to the Philippines—and the next generation, including your generation, must build on this foundation so that our exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea will belong truly to the Filipinos and all the resources there.”

The senior justice is part of the legal team that fought for, and won, the landmark tribunal ruling on the West Philippine Sea.

Carpio said that defending the West Philippine Sea would assure that resources found in the exclusive economic zones, which include fish, oil, gas and other resources, “will be enjoyed exclusively by Filipino citizens.”

He stressed that this includes resources found in Reed Bank, which is part of the Philippine EEZ.

Elago said in response that the youth accept the challenge of protecting the country's natural resources and uphold previous victories, including the 2016 arbitral decision that China's sweeping nine-dash-line claim over the South China Sea has no basis.

"Handa ang mga kabataan na ipagtanggol ang naipanalo na nila noon at magkamit pa ng mga tagumpay sa pagpo-protekta ng ating likas na yaman at ating teritoryo," she said.

(The youth are ready to uphold those victories and win more victories in protecting our natural resources and our territory)

She said that she chose to take her oath before Carpio because the senior magistrate has been consistent in fighting to preserve the Philippines' territorial integrity in the West Philippine Sea.

"Kabataan party-list, as the genuine youth representation in Congress, wants to send a strong message that the Filipino youth are resolute, decisive and ready to stand with all those who have long fought and and are working to defend our national soverienty and territorial integrity," she said.

'Truth movement' needed on West Philippine Sea

Last week, the senior magistrate called for a “truth movement” to correct the narrative being pushed forth on China’s fake historical claims.

In a speech, Caprio urged Filipinos to “expose to the world, and to the Chinese people themselves, the falsity of the historical claim of the Chinese government to the South China Sea,” particularly the nine-dash-line claim.

“This true history is clear, obvious and simple: China never owned the South China Sea in the past, and there are high seas in the South China Sea that belong to all mankind, as there are exclusive economic zones in the South China Sea that belong solely to the adjacent coastal states,” Carpio added.

In March, the senior justice also pointed out that a provision on the Philippine government’s loans from China put resources in oil-rich Reed Bank at risk of seizure.

Even before the 2016 tribunal ruling on China's sweeping nine-dash-line claim in the South China Sea, Carpio has been saying that the West Philippine Sea will be won through constant engagement with the international community. He has also said that that will take generations of Filipinos to do. — Kristine Joy Patag 

ANTONIO CARPIO RECTO BANK REED BANK SUPREME COURT WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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