In this file photo taken July 2, 2019, Solicitor General Jose Calida talks to reporters before the oral arguments on the plea for Writ of Kalikasan over some parts of the West Philippine Sea. Joy Patag
Become president first, Calida tells critics of West Philippine Sea policy
Kristine Joy Patag ( - July 15, 2019 - 11:30am

MANILA, Philippines — Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday told critics of the government’s efforts on protecting the West Philippine Sea that they should become the president first before giving their opinions.

Speaking on CNN Philippines’ “The Source,” Calida stressed that enforcing the arbitral ruling falls under the discretion and powers of the president.

“You know this is a matter of foreign relations and under our laws and Constitution, the chief architect of foreign policy is President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and not any interloper who probably wants to be president,” the government’s chief lawyer said.

“He should be president before he contests what the chief architect of foreign policy is doing. And I think you know who that person is,” Calida added.

While Calida did not identify anyone during the interview, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said last week that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte did not enforce the landmark ruling.

Carpio said in a forum on July 12: “The present government administration has done absolutely nothing to enforce the award.”

RELATED: Naval operations of foreign powers refute China's claim, enforce arbitral award

The forum was organized to mark the third anniversary of the historic arbitral award.

Asked to comment on Calida’s remarks, Carpio told reporters in a message: “The last time I checked, freedom of expression is still enshrined in our Constitution.”

Carpio: War with China prohibited in Constitution

Duterte has repeatedly stressed that the Philippines cannot go to war with China to enforce the landmark ruling.

Since his election as president, the firebrand leader has taken to adopting a friendlier stance with Beijing. He has been under fire over his refusal to confront China.

Recently, critics condemned the government’s action over a Chinese boat’s failure to rescue 22 Filipino fishermen after their boat sunk—an incident that some officials said was “hit-and-run.”

Carpio last week pointed out that the Philippines cannot go to war as it is prohibited in the Constitution.

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

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

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