Carpio doesn’t get it
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - November 28, 2018 - 12:00am

It is unfortunate that despite his intelligence, acting chief justice Antonio Carpio is not using his brains to see what the South China Sea issue really means, for all practical purposes, to the Philippines and to Filipinos. He approaches it too emotionally and sentimentally one is almost driven to expect he might actually break into tears discussing it at every opportunity.

In a recent forum with congressional chiefs of staff, Carpio again went into one of his now-familiar well-researched academic discussions about why the Philippines owns what it claims in the South China Sea and, conversely, why China has no right to occupy what it now does.

How sad that Carpio, while absolutely right in his presentation of facts, can be so absolutely wrong in appreciating the circumstances obtaining in the contested areas, his unassailable facts notwithstanding. And it is doubly sad how he needs to extensively and exhaustively launch into a harangue what most people can perfectly encapsulate in a scenario of a few words.

And this is what it is all about, shorn of everything but the cold and hard reality of the South China Sea as it really is, as opposed to what could have been or might be: China has taken possession of what it does not own and there is nothing that anyone can do about it.

With the sole exception of making loud but hollow condemnations, neither the United Nations nor the United States have shown any willingness to confront China in a manner that will force it to abandon its designs in the South China Sea or force it to give up what it has illegally taken.

President Duterte is correct in saying China is now in possession of the South China Sea because it is. There is no other way of seeing it. Duterte did not say China owns the SCS because it does not. China owns nothing in the contested areas but is in actual possession and occupation of many, if not most, of them.

China is like the enemy who now sits in the living room, a big gun in his hand.  Shaming him about the illegality of his actions, as Carpio proposes, is not going to make him budge an inch. Neither will a sudden dash to the kitchen to get a fork do the trick. In either course of action, the danger is great he will take over the whole house over our dead bodies.

The tack of Duterte is more practical as it aims to make the most of a tenuous situation. The Duterte tack is to engage the enemy in productive cooperation instead of forcing the issue in a manner that we have no control whatsoever of the outcome. Contrary to what Carpio must be secretly imagining, you do not attack the might of China with a slingshot.

ANTONIO CARPIO
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