Carpio: Philippines should consider patrols with ASEAN in South China Sea

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
Carpio: Philippines should consider patrols with ASEAN in South China Sea
This file photo from November 2019, representatives of the navies of Malaysia and Indonesia are in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi as part of "trilateral patrols" in waters off the southern Philippines.
Western Mindanao Command, file

MANILA, Philippines — As the Philippines looks to tap other countries to conduct joint patrols with in the West Philippine Sea, Former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Manila should consider doing joint maritime activities with nations with claims that overlap with China’s nine-dash line. 

"We should have joint patrols with Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia in each other’s exclusive economic zones because that would be asserting that all of us have exclusive economic zones," Carpio told reporters on the sidelines of a forum hosted by Stratbase ADR Institute on Monday. 

China’s so-called nine-dash line covers much of the South China Sea, including areas of the West Philippine Sea in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

China’s claims overlap claims by Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam but the Philippines also has competing claims with other ASEAN countries.

The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 ruled that China’s nine-dash claim has no basis in international law.

READ: How the Hague court ruled on the Philippines’s 15 arguments

The court also found that it is conflict with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea since it already goes beyond China’s maritime entitlements.

China has insisted that the ruling is "illegal, null, and void". It has also maintained that its actions in Philippine waters are consistent with international law, even the UNCLOS.

Joint patrols

Carpio said going on joint patrols would help enforce the arbitral award as it cements that it is part of the Philippine exclusive economic zone. 

Joint patrols are seen as a means to deter conflict and is also a show of force in the area.

The proposal is not without precedent as the navies of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia have conducted joint patrols in the Sulu Sea.

READ: 'Stronger military, alliances needed to complement talks on West Philippine Sea'

The Philippines and the United States during their 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue last week committed to finalizing plans concerning combined maritime activities with “like-minded” partners in the South China Sea later this year. 

In March, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the Philippine government is already "in the process of crafting guidelines for the conduct of combined maritime activities in the West Philippine Sea."

"Operational details, including on the possibility of engaging other regional partners, will be part of PH-US discussions within the framework of the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board Meeting," DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said.

Australia and the European Union also previously expressed interest in exploring joint patrols as well as other port calls and joint naval exercises with the Philippines, respectively. 

RELATED: Philippines, Australia explore possibility of South China Sea joint maritime patrols | EU eyes port calls, joint exercises with Philippines in South China Sea

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