Raising war with China over arbitral award meant to 'scare' Filipinos

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Raising war with China over arbitral award meant to 'scare' Filipinos
Protesters hold placards as motorists speed past during a rally in front of the Chinese consulate in Manila on July 13, 2019, to coincide with anniversarry of arbitral ruling by United nations on the South China sea. Protesters decended on the Chinese consulate in Manila, to oppose the Asian superpower's growing sway in the Philippines and as tensions rise over Beijing's presence in the disputed South China sea.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Enforcing the Philippines' arbitral win against China does not necessarily mean going to war with Beijing, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio stressed.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been consistent on his position that the Philippines cannot go to war with China despite its victory before the United Nations-backed tribunal.

"The claim that enforcing the abitral award means going to war with China, a war the Philippines will surely lose, is an utterly false claim, designed to intimidate the Filipino people to submit to the will of China," Carpio said in a forum on the West Philippine Sea.

The SC magistrate pointed out that the Philippines cannot go to war as it is prohibited in the Constitution.

Under Section 2, Article II of the 1987 Constitution, "The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations."

Carpio also noted that international law, particularly the United Nations Charter, has outlawed going to war to settle territorial or maritime disputes among states.

Leaders of nations accused of war of aggression can be held liable under the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court.

"Thus, it is obvious that the only purpose of raising the specter of war is to scare the Filipino people to submit to China," Carpio said.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, meanwhile, said going to war is not an option for China.

The former top diplomat noted that that Beijing's economy relies of global trade, that needs open shipping lanes, such as the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean. These waterways are dominated by Washington's naval power.

"With the recent clearer security guarantee definition provided by the US, it may not be necessary therefore to shrink to China's threat of war," Del Rosario said in the same forum.

Last week, Duterte challenged the US to declare a war against China, claiming that Washington has been using the Philippines as "bait."

"They said we have a US-RP pact. Okay. Let America declare the war. Let them assemble all their armaments there in South China Sea. Fire the first shot and I’ll be glad to do the next," Duterte said, reffering to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

In his visit to Manila in March, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured the Philippines that any armed attack in the South China Sea will trigger the MDT. 

"As the South China Sea is part of the Pacific, any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea would trigger mutual defense obligations under Article 4 of our Mutual Defense Treaty," Pompeo said.

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