Government urged: File territorial case vs China

Daphne Galvez - The Philippine Star
Government urged: File territorial case vs China
This undated photo shows former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — Former Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio yesterday urged the Philippine government to challenge China to submit to arbitration its territorial dispute over Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal to finally settle which country has sovereignty.

China earlier accused the Philippines of illegally entering its waters near Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, which is within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“We have to challenge China to submit the dispute to arbitration because that’s the only solution. Let the arbitral tribunal decide who has sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal,” Carpio said in an interview with ANC.

He added that bringing the dispute to arbitration, particularly before the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ), should be voluntary.

The Department of Foreign Affairs could make an official challenge to China to submit the case to the ICJ and if Beijing refuses, Carpio said, it is because “their claim is weak and they know they will lose.”

“If China really believes that they own it, then they should be willing to submit it to arbitration and we’ll tell the world we’re ready to arbitrate and let the ICJ decide the case and we will abide by that decision,” he said.

Carpio explained that the Philippines’ 2016 arbitral award invalidating China’s nine-dash line virtually claiming the entire South China Sea “was only talking of the maritime dispute,” but the decision can also apply to territorial claims.

“These are two separate disputes governed by different laws. So we have to start a new case on the territorial dispute,” he added.

In 2016, The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines and debunked China’s “historic rights” claim over the entire South China Sea.

China, to this day, refuses to recognize the arbitral decision in favor of the Philippines.

Carpio expressed confidence that the Philippines will also win the case should it be brought before the ICJ.

Meanwhile, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said that a territorial dispute is “totally different” from a dispute over maritime rights in the EEZ, which is the subject of the 2016 arbitral award.

Guevarra added that they are determining if a territorial dispute will be added to their ongoing study of legal options regarding the West Philippine Sea.

“We are presently completing the data-gathering stage and we shall soon proceed to the identification of specific legal issues that need to be resolved and how they may be resolved in accordance with international law,” he told The STAR in a text message yesterday.

The Philippine government is also planning to file an environmental case against China over damages to natural and marine resources in the West Philippine Sea.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said they are aiming to file the case by early 2024.

Despite the country’s problems in the West Philippine Sea, uniformed personnel and residents of Pag-asa Island still find ways to unwind and enjoy sports.

The Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines yesterday announced that the Coast Guard Station (CGS) team bagged the Pag-asa 3x3 basketball championship.

The CGS defeated the Kalayaan Ballers team representing the local government, with a score of 21-14, to win the first-ever Pag-asa 3x3 basketball title.

The CGS team is composed of Coast Guard Ensign Algie Giner, PO3 Dandyo Orcales, SN1 J-mhie Jannatain, SN1 Bernard Rico and ASN Kaizar Julkarin.

The Kalayaan Ballers team is composed of Dennis Bania, Roy Cojamco, Junjun Abayan, Junel Hugo and Oliver Lachica.

Eight teams participated in the basketball tournament, including the Marine Battalion Landing Team 3, Joint Task Unit Pag-asa, the Philippine National Police and MAMSAR Construction. — Michael Punongbayan

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