Duterte called Carpio “buang” (Visayan word for crazy) and “stupid” after the senior magistrate said the Chief Executive’s decision to allow Chinese fishermen in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is unconstitutional.
Michael Varcas
Carpio opts not to respond to Rody’s ‘stupid’ remark
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - June 28, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has opted not to respond to President Duterte’s latest tirades against him for criticizing the government’s reported decision to allow Chinese to fish in Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte called Carpio “buang” (Visayan word for crazy) and “stupid” after the senior magistrate said the Chief Executive’s decision to allow Chinese fishermen in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is unconstitutional.

“You’re really stupid. That is why that’s just how far you will go,” the President said in his speech, addressing Carpio. Despite being the most senior magistrate of the SC, he was bypassed by Duterte for the chief justice position in November last year.

“Those personal attacks are not worth commenting on,” Carpio replied yesterday in a text message when sought for comment.

Carpio has been critical of the administration’s policy on the territorial conflict with China in the South China Sea and has actively pushed for filing of more protests over Beijing’s incursions in the contested areas.

The SC justice, however, welcomed the statement made by presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo yesterday that the President was misinterpreted by the media and that the government would never relinquish sovereign rights in its EEZ.

“I welcome the clarification of Secretary Panelo that the President never meant to allow the Chinese to fish within Philippine EEZ,” Carpio commented.

In a statement, Panelo explained that when Duterte made the remark about Chinese fishermen trawling in the Philippines’ EEZ, it meant that the government of China will not permit their fishermen from doing that because Manila and Beijing are friends.

“After watching the President’s interview and reading its transcript, I have evaluated that it appears that what the President meant was China would not allow their nationals from fishing in our EEZ since they treat us as their friends, knowing that permitting their fishermen to fish in our EEZ would only result in an unwanted hostility leading to an armed confrontation,” Panelo said.

Panelo said Duterte “confirmed that indeed that was what he meant” when he asked him regarding his statement.

“He explained that his first visit to China resulted in a modus vivendi where China, which claims ownership of Reed Bank by virtue of historical right, would allow our fishermen to catch fish there, a place declared to be within our EEZ,” he further explained.

?SC bets rebut Carpio

Meanwhile, three aspirants for an upcoming vacancy in the high court to be left by the retirement of Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo next month rebutted Carpio’s opinion.

During public interview by the Judicial and Bar Council on Wednesday, Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justices Mario Lopez and Eduardo Peralta Jr. and Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Alex Quiroz all believed the reported decision of the President to allow Chinese fishermen to trawl in Recto Bank may be legally justified.

Lopez explained the President has the discretion to allow China to operate within the Philippines’ EEZ.

“That is a wisdom that can be determined by the executive insofar as entering into an agreement with another country. I would even think.. that this may be a political issue because these foreign policies are entered into by the President and it is something that is conferred to the Chief Executive as part of his function as the leader of the state and the Court cannot possibly question the wisdom of the executive of whether or not to enter into an agreement with another country,” Lopez told the JBC.

However, Lopez explained that such arrangement could be declared unconstitutional “if that agreement would not benefit the country.”

Peralta agreed the Chief Executive has the discretion to allow the Chinese fishermen in Recto Bank.

“I am of the assumption that this permission, I would say, is a recognition, on the contrary, of prerogative on the part of the Philippine government. It carries with it an implied assertion of authority over the area,” he told the JBC.

Quiroz, for his part, said Duterte’s move in favor of China was not a ground for impeachment.

“I don’t think it will constitute ground for impeachment because the betrayal of public trust must be coupled with grave offenses such as treason, bribery and graft and corruption and grave violation of the Constitution,” he stressed.

Carpio on Tuesday said the decision to allow Chinese fishermen to trawl in Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea violates the 1987 Constitution.

He explained Recto Bank is part of the country’s EEZ where Filipinos should enjoy exclusive sovereign right to fish.

He cited Article XII, Section 2 of the Charter, which states that: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.”

“The Philippines has exclusive sovereign right to exploit all the fish, oil, gas and other mineral resources in its exclusive economic zone. This sovereign right belongs to the Filipino people, and no government official can waive this sovereign right of the Filipino people without their consent,” Carpio pointed out.

Carpio said the national territory is defined by Article I of the Constitution to include “other submarine areas” over which the Philippines has “sovereignty or jurisdiction.”

He also cited the 2016 ruling of the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration, which declared Recto Bank as part of the country’s EEZ.

Carpio suggested the government should tap the Armed Forces to protect Recto Bank and other parts of its EEZ from poaching foreign fishermen.

The issue on Recto Bank stemmed from the incident last June 9 involving a Chinese vessel and the boat of 22 Filipino fishermen who were left adrift. 

Earlier, Carpio said the government must demand compensation from China over the sinking of the Philippine fishing boat by what he believed was a Chinese maritime militia vessel.  

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