Posts Tagged ‘Carpio’

‘Never give up honor, sovereignty and sovereign rights’

August 23, 2017

By   – @inquirerdotnet

07:24 AM August 23, 2017

(Editor’s Note: Below is the acceptance speech delivered on Aug. 19 by the Supreme Court senior associate justice on behalf of this year’s recipients of the UP Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Awards.)

On behalf of this year’s alumni awardees, I wish to thank the board of directors of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association headed by its president, Atty. Ramon Maronilla, for this signal award conferred on us.

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I am sure I speak for all of the awardees here tonight that we are truly honored and humbled by this recognition. We will certainly treasure this award.

Show honor

This year’s theme of the alumni homecoming is “Itanghal ang Dangal” — show honor.

Honor is, of course, the first half of the UP motto—“Honor and Excellence.”

The emphasis on showing honor correctly points out that honor comes before excellence, that there must be honor above all, even as there must be excellence in all that we do.

For excellence without honor is a recipe for national disaster.

A society that has an abundance of excellence but a scarcity of honor is a society in deep trouble.

Excellence without honor creates evil geniuses and develops a culture of greed — all at the expense of the common good.

That is why the university must continuously teach our students, and the alumni must ceaselessly show by example, that there must be honor above all, even as we strive for excellence in all that we do.


Honor is priceless, for once it has a price, then it can be for sale.

A nation’s sovereignty and sovereign rights are also priceless. If you put a price tag on our country’s sovereignty or sovereign rights, then another country may buy our country’s sovereignty or sovereign rights.

Our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, like our honor as UP alumni, are priceless. They are not for sale.

Our sovereign rights belong to present and future generations of Filipinos.

The duty of this present generation of Filipinos is to defend and preserve our sovereign rights, and pass on these rights to the next generation for the benefit of all succeeding generations of Filipinos.

No generation of Filipinos, and no individual Filipino, has the right to sell or waive the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea. Any such sale or waiver is a betrayal of the nation.

In this battle to defend and preserve our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, we use the most powerful weapon ever invented by man, a weapon that can neutralize warships, warplanes, missiles and nuclear bombs, and that weapon is the rule of law.

Armed solely with this legal weapon, we won a great battle in July 2016 in The Hague at a United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) tribunal, which awarded to the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea a vast exclusive economic zone, with an area larger than our total land area.

Next step

The next step is to enforce the award of the tribunal. This involves perseverance, steely determination, and a well-thought-out and carefully crafted long-term strategy.

I have no doubt that if we stay the course, the award of the tribunal will gradually be followed over time because the alternative is the demise of the law of the sea.

If the Unclos cannot apply in the South China Sea, then it cannot apply in the rest of the oceans and seas of the world.

Instead of the rule of law, the rule of the naval cannon will prevail in the oceans and seas.

The world community of civilized nations will not allow this to happen.

And even if we cannot immediately enforce the award because of the overwhelming might of the other side, we still acquit ourselves with respect before future generations of Filipinos because we are doing our duty with honor in accordance with the rule of law.

We would be setting a fine example to future generations of what it means to do our historic duty with honor.

Against all odds

That to me is the true meaning of “Itanghal ang dangal”—show, display and uphold honor against all odds.

Today, we face the gravest external threat to Philippine national security since World War II.

At stake is a huge maritime area rich in fishery, oil, gas and other mineral resources—either we keep this huge maritime area or we lose it to China forever.

The battle for the West Philippine Sea is the modern-day equivalent of the battles that our forebears fought, and even sacrificed their lives, to win and secure our sovereignty on land.

It is the turn of our generation to face the historic duty to defend the sovereign rights of the Filipino people in the sea.

To my fellow alumni of this great university: Never give up your honor, never give up our sovereignty, and never give up our sovereign rights!

Maraming salamat, mabuhay ang Pilipinas, mabuhay ang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas, mabuhay tayong lahat!

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Filipino officials: Chinese navy stalked Philippine area — Philippine Government not telling all they know?

August 22, 2017
 / 08:04 PM August 22, 2017

In this Friday, April 21, 2017 photo, a sandbar is seen from the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island off the disputed South China Sea in western Philippines. On Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, two Filipino security officials said China has deployed its navy and coast guard ships in a cluster of uninhabited sandbars in the disputed South China Sea amid concerns that the Philippines may build structures on them in an emerging territorial issue that the government stated was quickly resolved. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines- China recently deployed navy and coast guard ships in a cluster of uninhabited sandbars in the disputed South China Sea amid concerns that the Philippines may build structures on them, two Filipino security officials said Tuesday. The government, however, said the issue was quickly resolved amid the Asian neighbors’ friendlier ties.

Two senior Philippine security officials told The Associated Press that three Chinese navy ships, a coast guard vessel and 10 fishing boats began keeping watch on Sandy Cay on Aug. 12 after a group of Filipino fishermen were spotted on the sandbars. The Filipinos eventually left but the Chinese stayed on.

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The two spoke on condition of anonymity, saying only the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila has been authorized to publicly discuss issues related to the country’s territorial disputes with China. The foreign affairs department, however, has in recent days refused to divulge details of the situation at Sandy Cay, a cluster of three sandbars.

A senior Philippine diplomat, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of a lack of authority to discuss the issue publicly, said China “is concerned that we will build” structures on the sandbars. Chinese and Philippine officials have quietly worked to resolve the issue in recent days, said the diplomat, who is involved in the talks.

A government security report seen by the AP says Chinese navy ships with bow numbers 504, 545 and 168, a Chinese coast guard ship with bow number 46115, and 10 Chinese fishing vessels took positions off Sandy Cay. Its nearest sandbar is about 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 kilometers) from Philippine-occupied Thitu Island.

On Aug. 15, a blue Chinese helicopter flew low off Thitu’s southwest coast, the report said.

Philippine troops and villagers based at Thitu call it Pag-asa -Tagalog for hope – while the Chinese call the island Zhongye Dao.

The Chinese military presence near Thitu sparked concerns in Manila.

Philippine Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who has studied the disputes extensively, said the Chinese navy ships and other vessels encroached in the Philippine island’s 12-nautical mile (22-kilometer) territorial waters.

“In short, Sandy Cay is a Philippine land territory that is being seized, to put it mildly, or being invaded, to put it frankly, by China,” Carpio said in a statement over the weekend.

He said President Rodrigo Duterte and Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano have the constitutional duty to defend and protect Philippine territory.

“The very least that they could do now is to vigorously protest this invasion of Philippine territory by China,” Carpio said. “If both are courageous, they should send a Philippine navy ship to guard Sandy Cay and if the Chinese navy ships attack the Philippine navy vessel, they should invoke the Philippine-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty.”

The 1951 treaty binds the allies to come to the aid of each other when attacked.

Cayetano, however, told reporters Tuesday that the issue has been diplomatically resolved and denied that China has invaded Sandy Cay.

“Let me assure you, there is no more problem in that area,” Cayetano told reporters, declining to provide details. “But it is not true that there was an attempt to invade or seize it.”

Much-friendlier ties between Manila and Beijing under Duterte have allowed both governments to manage their disputes better. “If our relationship with our neighbors isn’t this good, the situation in the West Philippine Sea will be much, much worse,” Cayetano said, using the Philippine name for the South China Sea.

Duterte told reporters over dinner late Monday that he has been assured by China’s ambassador in Manila, Zhao Jianhua, and the Chinese foreign ministry that Beijing has no plans to occupy or build structures on Sandy Cay.

“They’re not invading,” ABS-CBN TV network quoted Duterte as saying. “They are just there but they are not claiming anything.”

One of the Philippine security officials said the military has been monitoring the Chinese presence at Sandy Cay but added it was difficult to check if Beijing’s ships were still there due to bad weather in the remote offshore region.

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Deepsea Metro I

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Chinese H-6 bomber

 (Is the Philippines just a pawn for China now?)

The ONLY TRULY JOYFUL FACES at the ASEAN conference were provided by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, left, and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.  (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)



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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

South China Sea: Philippine President Duterte Struggles With Question of Sovereignty, International Law Over Sandy Cay as China Watches

August 22, 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte speaks with the Malacañang Press Corps at the Malago Clubhouse, Malacañang Park in Manila on August 21, 2017. PPD

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte dismissed the warning of Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that the Chinese are invading a sandbar near Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea.

Carpio earlier urged the Philippine government to act on China’s “invasion” of Sandy Cay, located some 2.5 nautical miles off Pag-asa Island and well within the island’s 12-nautical mile territorial waters.

READ: Carpio: China virtually occupying Sandy Cay

The president, on the other hand, said that there is no reason to defend the sandbar as China was only patrolling the area.

“Why should I defend a sandbar and kill the Filipinos because of a sandbar?” Duterte told reporters Monday night.

Duterte added that Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua assured him that Beijing will not be building facilities in the area.

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Sandy Cay

“Hindi nga na-invade eh. Hindi naman totoo iyong sinasabi ni ano — they are just there but they are not claiming anything,” Duterte said.

Carpio called on Duterte and Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano to protest the invasion of Philippine territory of China as it reportedly has two frigates, a coast guard vessel and two military fishing boats around Sandy Cay.

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File photo

RELATED: Photos confirm Chinese flotilla near Pag-asa

The SC justice stressed that Duterte and Cayetano both vowed to the Filipino people that they will not concede a single inch of Philippine territory to China.

Duterte, however, does not see any reason why China would occupy the sandbar near the Manila-claimed island.

“Why would they risk invading a sandbar and get into a quarrel with us? Ano ang makuha nila?” he said.

Carpio earlier explained that Sandy Cay was discussed in the final ruling of an international tribunal which invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

Located between Pag-asa Island and Zamora Reef, Sandy Cay is a disappearing sandbar — appearing only for a few months before it disappears.

“Apparently, because of China’s dredging in Subi Reef, pulverized corals drifted and gathered at Sandy Cay and made it permanently above water at high-tide. As a high-tide elevation, Sandy Cay is now land or territory capable of sovereign ownership with its own territorial sea and territorial airspace,” Carpio said.

Satellite imagery released by Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative last week confirmed reports that Chinese vessels had been operating near Pag-asa Island.

RELATED: Cayetano defends Chinese presence near Pag-asa

The think tank said that the presence of Chinese ships in the area may be an indication that Beijing is discouraging Manila from its planned construction on Pag-asa.

“It is important to note that ownership of the territorial waters in which these ships are operating is still legally disputed. Subi was a low-tide elevation before China built an artificial island on it,” AMTI said. — Patricia Lourdes Viray


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Deepsea Metro I

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Chinese H-6 bomber

 (Is the Philippines just a pawn for China now?)

The ONLY TRULY JOYFUL FACES at the ASEAN conference were provided by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, left, and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.  (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)



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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

Some Philippine Leaders Herald a New Era of Cooperation with China, while Others Warn of a Buildup of Chinese Naval and Civilian Vessels

August 20, 2017

Satellite photograph showing Chinese ships near Thitu (Pag-asa) Island (Photo: AMTI)

The week began with signs that the détente between the Philippines and China was coming along smoothly. Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana told a congressional hearing on Monday that China had promised to stop occupying new features in the South China Sea and to stop building new installations in the Scarborough Shoal. According to Lorenzana, the two countries had reached a “modus vivendi,” or a “way of getting along,” in the South China Sea that would involve an end of China’s building projects.

The next day, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told the Philippine House of Representatives that the government is considering working with China to develop petroleum resources in the disputed waters between the two countries. Cayetano said that the project, if confirmed, would not cede any Philippine territory or sovereignty to China – perhaps a response to earlier remarks by Senior Justice Antonio Carpio that an oil and gas joint venture in Philippine territory would endanger the country’s sovereignty. “I will assure you, any legal framework will conform with local laws and the Constitution,” Cayetano said.

But the very same day, Congressman Gary Alejano reported that a number of Chinese PLA Navy ships had been deployed near Thitu, or Pag-asa, Island, a large island in the Spratly Islands that the Philippines occupy. According to Alejano’s “military sources,” a pair of Chinese frigates, a coast guard ship, and some fishing ships affiliated with China’s maritime militia were located a few miles north of Thitu Island. In a press conference, the Congressman described the ships as “suspicious,” and said: “I call on the Philippine government officials to be transparent in what is happening in the West Philippine Sea. We must assert our rights in the midst of talks with China.”

On Wednesday, Secretary Cayetano responded to Congressman Alejano’s report: he could not confirm the presence of the Chinese ships, but added that “[t]he presence of ships alone does not mean anything…the situation in the area is very stable.” Cayetano said that China was not an enemy and should not be treated as such. “It’s good we have people like Congressman Alejano who reminds us to monitor the situation,” he said. “But there’s a thin line between informing us and stirring up the situation.” Responding to Cayetano’s remarks, Alejano expressed dissatisfaction with Cayetano for “brushing aside the unusual and suspicious presence of several huge military and Chinese ships…in the vicinity of our largest island.”

Though neither Lorenzana or Cayetano confirmed the presence of the ships, Alejano released photographs of what he claimed were Chinese ships operating near Thitu Island.  The Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) released satellite images that seem to indicate that Chinese naval and civilian waters were indeed present in the area. According to AMTI’s report, “On that day, there were nine Chinese fishing ships and two naval/law enforcement vessels visible near Thitu…with others possibly under cloud cover. It is impossible to know if any of those ships might be affiliated with the maritime militia, but at least two appear to be actively fishing…”  The report added that the flotilla’s presence was “highly provocative” and speculated that Beijing might have intended to “dissuade Manila from planned construction on Thitu.”

In Other News…

United States

On Monday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford arrived in Beijing for talks with top Chinese military leaders.  At the opening of the dialogue, Gen. Dunford said that the two sides intended to discuss “difficult issues where we will not necessarily have the same perspective,” but that they “shared a commitment to work through these difficulties.”

On Tuesday, Gen. Dunford met with PLA Gen. Fang Fenghui to sign an agreement announcing a new communication mechanism between the two militaries. Accordingto U.S. Joint Staff officials, the agreement would “enable us to communicate to reduce the risk of miscalculation” and to mitigate potential crises. The two sides agreed to work together to develop the framework, with the first meeting scheduled for November. Few details were released about how the mechanism would work or when it would be used, but both sides spoke of the need to develop trust and openness. Gen. Dunford said that crisis communications between the United States and China is critical, but that avoiding miscommunication was “the minimum standard.” Rather than simply working to avert a crisis, he said, “We should also try to see areas to cooperate.” Gen. Fang agreed, stating that the American and Chinese armies could work together to cooperate as partners.


Meanwhile, the United States was deepening its military ties with Japan as well. The two countries commenced a series of joint military operations on and around the Japanese island of Hokkaido on August 10. On Tuesday, the two countries’ air forces conducted drills near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which Japan occupies but China and Taiwan claim. In a statement, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces said, “These training flights with Japan demonstrate the solidarity and resolve we share with our allies to preserve peace and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”


The Deepsea Metro I, a drilling ship contracted by Vietnam’s PetroVietnam and the Spanish firm Repsol to drill for oil in disputed waters claimed by China, arrived near the Malaysian port of Labuan on Monday. The ship was last reported at the drilling site on July 30. Vietnam canceled its plans to explore for petroleum in the disputed waters under intense pressure from China. Gregory Polling, the director of the AMTI, arguedthat the departure of the drilling ship signaled that Vietnam was unable to stand up to China without support from the United States or the regional powers of the South China Sea.


Taiwan placed its military on high alert after the Chinese air force conducted operations around – and sometimes within – Taiwan’s air defense identification zone over the weekend and on Monday. Taiwanese Defense Ministry Spokesman Chen Chung-ji stated, “Our air force and navy will stay on high alert to prevent them from intruding upon our territorial waters or airspace or even engaging in hostility.” The drills included bombers and surveillance aircraft and marked the eighth time that Chinese military aircraft have trained near Taiwan since July.

Analysis, Commentary, and Additional Information

Mark Valencia argues in the South China Morning Post that China and the United States should develop guidelines for naval operations off of each other’s’ shores. According to Valencia, the two sides have reached a sort of settled pattern in which the United States conducts Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in Chinese-claimed waters, and Beijing expresses disapproval. However, he says, this status quo is not stable. For example, if China tried to interfere with the American patrols, or if Japanese naval forces joined the U.S. Navy’s FONOPs, a conflict could easily break out. To avoid this outcome, Valencia argues that the two sides should work together to establish norms and rules governing how their navies will operate in contested waters.

Writing in The Diplomat, Tuan N. Pham claims that China’s aggressive naval and air operations in the South China Sea are increasingly at odds with its own interpretations of international maritime law. He points out that Beijing regularly claims that intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance flights conducted by the United States and other countries in China’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) are unlawful, while the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) increasingly conducts similar operations in other countries’ EEZs. Pham predicts that “[a]s the PLAN continues to operate in distant waters and in proximity to other nations’ coastlines, Beijing may have no choice but to eventually address the inconsistency between policy and operations — and either pragmatically adjust its standing policy or continue to assert its untenable authority to regulate military activities in its EEZ. The former is more likely, while the latter carries more risks in terms of the legal validity of its own maritime sovereignty claims, international credibility, and world standing.”

Robert Manning of the Atlantic Council and James Przystup of the National Defense University argue in Foreign Policy that American politicians and commentators overstate the importance of the South China Sea to America’s national interests. They argue that America’s interests in the South China Sea have always been limited to freedom of navigation and freedom of maritime commerce. On the other hand, “Beijing’s interest in the South China Sea is political and strategic in nature,” key to both the legitimacy of the Communist Party and China’s overall security. Manning and Przystup conclude that the United States should acknowledge that, due to this “asymmetry of respective Chinese and U.S. geopolitical interests,” it must accept a larger Chinese role in the South China Sea.

Water Wars is our weekly roundup of the latest news, analysis, and opinions related to ongoing tensions in the South and East China Seas. Please email Sarah Grant with breaking news, relevant documents, or corrections

South China Sea: Proposed Code of Conduct With China Bypasses International Law

August 4, 2017
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In this Thursday, July 27, 2017 photo, a man and a child look at a picture showing the Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly islands, in the disputed South China Sea, on display at the military museum in Beijing. China’s foreign ministry has criticized plans by Britain to send its new aircraft carriers on freedom of navigation missions in the South China Sea to challenge Beijing’s expansive territorial claims in the strategic waterway, accusing it of stirring up trouble. Meanwhile, an official Chinese magazine says President Xi Jinping personally directed the enlargement of China’s presence in the South China Sea, crediting him with constructing a “maritime Great Wall.” AP/Andy Wong

MANILA, Philippines — The framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea will not serve as an instrument to settle territorial disputes or maritime delimitation issues.

Foreign ministers of ASEAN and China are expected to adopt the framework that will serve as an outline for a code of conduct on the disputed waters.

In a two-page document acquired by, one of the main objectives of the code is to establish a rules-based framework to guide the conduct of parties and to promote maritime cooperation in the disputed South China Sea.

Despite not being an instrument to settle disputes, the framework stated the parties’ commitment to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and other principles of international law.

The framework did not include the arbitral ruling of a UN-backed tribunal that invalidated China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea. Last year, the international tribunal ruled that Beijing violated its commitment under the UNCLOS following its reclamation activities within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

READ: DFA: Framework on South China Sea code might skip Hague ruling

The framework of the code of conduct stressed “[r]espect for each other’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity in accordance with international law, and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.”

This echoes President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks during his opening speech at the 30th ASEAN Leaders’ Summit in Manila last April, where he urged his Southeast Asian counterparts to set the tone of talks based on non-interference.

“Dialogue relations can be made more productive constructive if the valued principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of the ASEAN member states is observed,” Duterte said in his speech last April 29.

Meanwhile, another objective of the framework is to “promote mutual trust, cooperation and confidence, prevent incidents, manage incidents should they occur and create a favorable environment for the peaceful settlement of disputes.

The framework also expressed commitment to a full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties or DOC in the South China Sea.

In 2002, ASEAN member countries and China signed the DOC in Cambodia to resolve conflicting maritime claims peacefully. More than 14 years later, the concerned parties are yet to complete a binding code of conduct.

Peace and Freedom Comment: How can you trust a party to a Code of Conduct when they have already proven their unwillingness to follow international law?


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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

Philippines and Vietnam Have Legal Claims in the South China Sea; China Does Not — Philippine Supreme Court Senior Justice Has a Way To Follow The Law

August 4, 2017
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War never is an option. Diplomacy can fortify the UN ruling on Manila’s row with Beijing. Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio enumerates some diplomatic initiatives, in a presentation to the Stratbase-Albert del Rosario Institute. Third of four parts:

There is no world policeman or sheriff to enforce the arbitral ruling. However, states that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea expressly bound themselves to comply in good faith with decisions of arbitral tribunals created under UNCLOS. China is reneging on this treaty obligation.

The option for the Philippines is not “talk or go to war with China.” This is a false option, and shows a dismal lack of understanding of international law and relations.

First, the Philippine Constitution prohibits war as instrument of national policy. Second, the UN Charter has outlawed war as a means of settling disputes between states. In resolving the SCS dispute, war is not and has never been an option. That is precisely why the Philippines filed the arbitration case against China.

If the Philippines starts a war against China, it would surely lose, and lose badly. If the Philippines is the aggressor, that will violate the Constitution and the UN Charter. The Philippines cannot invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty because the treaty is only for defense, not for aggression. President Duterte’s oft-repeated question – whether the US will support and join the Philippines if we go to war against China – is a misguided question because the US is not bound by the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty to support any act of aggression by the Philippines. If the US joins the Philippines in a war of aggression, the US will also be in breach of the UN Charter.

China itself does not want to start a war because war will give the US an excuse to intervene in the SCS dispute, since to defend itself the Philippines will certainly invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty. China’s strategy is to control the SCS without firing a shot. Those who raise the issue of war with China either do not understand the Three Warfares Strategy of China, or are scaring the Filipino people to submit to China’s designs in the SCS.

The real and practical option for the Philippines is to “talk with China while taking measures to fortify the arbitral ruling.” We should talk with China on the COC, on the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) for naval and coast guard vessels, on conservation of fish stocks, on preservation of maritime environment, and on how our fishermen can fish in Scarborough Shoal. There are many other things to talk with China on the SCS dispute even if China refuses to discuss the arbitral ruling.

As we talk with China, we can fortify the ruling in many ways:

(1) The Philippines can enter into a sea boundary agreement with Vietnam on our overlapping Extended Continental Shelves in the Spratlys, based on the ruling of the tribunal that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. Such an agreement implements part of the arbitral ruling by state practice.

(2) The Philippines can enter into a sea boundary agreement with Malaysia on our overlapping EEZ and ECS in the Spratlys, again based on the ruling that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. Such agreement also implements part of the ruling by state practice.

(3) The Philippines can file an ECS claim beyond our 200 NM EEZ in the West Philippine Sea off the coast of Luzon. If China does not oppose, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) will award the ECS to the Philippines, similar to our ECS claim in Benham Rise where there was no opposition. If China opposes our ECS claim, it will have a dilemma on what ground to invoke. If China invokes the nine-dashed lines again, the UNCLCS will reject the opposition because the UNCLCS is bound by the ruling of the arbitral tribunal which, like the UNCLCS, was created under UNCLOS. If China claims an overlapping ECS, then China will be admitting that the Philippines has a 200 NM EEZ from Luzon that negates the nine-dashed lines.

(4) The arbitral tribunal has ruled that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. The Philippines can initiate an agreement among all ASEAN disputant states – Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines – declaring that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generate an EEZ that could overlap with their respective EEZs. Even if only the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia will agree to this declaration, it will clearly remove any maritime delimitation dispute among them, leaving only the territorial disputes. This will isolate China as the only state claiming an EEZ from geologic features in the Spratlys.

(5) The Philippines can claim damages before an UNCLOS tribunal for the “severe, permanent harm” to the marine environment, as ruled by the arbitral tribunal, that China caused within Philippine EEZ in the Spratlys because of China’s dredging and its failure to stop Chinese fishermen from harvesting endangered species.

(6) In case China shows signs of reclaiming Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines can file a new case before an UNCLOS arbitral tribunal to stop the reclamation because any reclamation in Scarborough Shoal will destroy the traditional fishing ground common to fishermen from the Philippines, Vietnam and China as ruled by the tribunal.

The ruling involves only maritime, not territorial issues. Enforcing it does not mean forcibly evicting China from the islands and high-tide elevations it occupies in the SCS, as occupation of these geologic features is a territorial issue. There are still many commentators in media who fail to distinguish between territorial and maritime disputes, and thus wrongly conclude that enforcing the ruling means going to war with China on the territorial dispute. (More on Monday)

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.


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Philippines: Joint venture for oil with China will comply with Constitution — China: We must stand together vs South China Sea outsiders

July 27, 2017

Philippine Marines on the BRP Sierra Madre, a grounded Navy ship that serves as an outpost in the West Philippine Sea. AP/Bullit Marquez, file

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday assured the public that any joint venture that the country will enter into would be compliant with the Constitution and local laws.

This statement came days after President Rodrigo Duterte said that a joint exploration in the disputed West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea that Manila claims, may be possible between the Philippines and China.

“We will not give up an inch of our territory, and that any deal should have better terms favoring the Philippines,” Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

During his State of the Nation Address last Monday, Duterte said that the sea row is an issue that has to be tackled sooner or later.

The president said that the joint exploration activities between the two countries would be similar to a “joint venture.”

READ: Duterte: Joint gas exploration deal in disputed sea may be forged with China

“When they start to excavate the gas and all. I tell you, it’s going to be just like a joint venture. Para pareho,” Duterte said in a press conference after his SONA.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that natural resources, such as oil in the West Philippine Sea, should be enjoyed by everyone.

“As very spiritual people, we believe natural resources are blessings from God that should be enjoyed by His people,” Cayetano told reporters.

In a separate press briefing, the Philippines’ top diplomat said that the country will not lose even a “single inch” of territory to China if it proceeds with a joint exploration deal.

On the other hand, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned “non-regional” forces he said are interfering in the South China Sea to stay away from the region.

During his official visit to Manila, Wang said that the improved relations between China, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations are the key towards stability in the region.

“If there are still some non-regional forces or forces in the region that don’t want to see stability in the South China Sea and they still want to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, we need to stand together and say no to them together,” Wang said.

RELATED: China: We must stand together vs South China Sea outsiders


China: We must stand together vs South China Sea outsiders

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in Manila for a two-day official visit. Lourdes Viray

MANILA, Philippines — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday urged Association of Southeast Asian Nations members to unite against “non-regional forces” interfering in the South China Sea.

China’s top diplomat reiterated Beijing’s commitment to working with the Philippines and other ASEAN countries to maintain peace and stability in the disputed South China Sea.

Wang said that the improved relations between the Philippines and China are the key towards stability in the region.

“If there are still some non-regional forces or forces in the region that don’t want to see stability in the South China Sea and they still want to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, we need to stand together and say no to them together,” Wang told reporters during a press briefing in Manila.

He noted that a progress the framework on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea is taking place.

“This pact shows to the world that China and ASEAN countries have capabilties and wisdom to handle differences between us, maintain stability in the South China Sea,” Wang said.

The Chinese Foreign Minister also hailed the Duterte administration’s pursuit of an independent foreign policy.

The Philippines, a long-time ally of the United States, appears to have moved closer to China and Russia under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“An independent Philippines will bring the country dignity and standing on the international stage. The Philippines that has strengthened relations on other countries will open up brighter prospect for its own development,” Wang said.

Wang vowed that China will become a “good neighbor” and a “good brother” to the Philippines.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Wang signed a memorandum of understanding on strengthening cooperation between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The Chinese Foreign Minister is in the country for a two-day official visit upon the invitation of Cayetano.

South China Sea: One Year After The Philippines Win At The Permanent Court of Arbitration — Brilliant Statecraft or Treason?

July 12, 2017

By Ellen Tordesillas

Posted at Jul 12 2017 02:46 AM

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One of the good things that President Duterte has done was to rekindle relations with China which reached its lowest ebb during the administration of Benigno Aquino III.

Never mind that during the election campaign, he rode on the anti-China sentiments of most Filipinos fueled by the pro-American leanings of Aquino and his Foreign Secretary, Albert del Rosario.

Remember, a standard in Duterte’s campaign speech was his boast that he will ride on a jet ski to one of the islands in the disputed Spratlys and plant the Philippine flag. He would kiss the flag to dramatize his promise. Once in Malacanang, he was asked when he was going to jetski to Spratlys and he replied it was a joke. He said he didn’t even know how to swim.

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In the guise of independent foreign policy, Duterte didn’t just cozy up to China. He attacked the United States when then President Barack Obama reminded him to respect human rights amid reports of rampant killings in connection with his anti-illegal drugs campaign.

His foreign policy moves can be likened to a pendulum that swung from extreme right to extreme left. Today marks first year anniversary of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands on the case filed by the Philippines against China on the latter’s activities in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

China did not participate in the Arbitral Court proceedings.

It was a major victory for the Philippines. The Arbitral Court declared invalid China’s nine-dashed line map which covers some 85 percent of the whole South China which infringes on the economic exclusive zones of other countries namely the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Arbitral Court also ruled that China’s  artificial islands – rocks that were turned into garrisons through reclamation – in the disputed South China Sea do not generate entitlements under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea such as economic exclusive zone (220 nautical miles from the shore) and extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles).

As to Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, which is within the Philippine EEZ, the Arbitral Court said it’s a traditional fishing ground of Philippine, Chinese, Vietnamese and fishermen of other nationalities and should be maintained as such.

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Filipino fishermen had been denied access to the area since April 2012 after a two-month stand off between Chinese and Philippine Coastguards following arrest by a Philippine warship of Chinese fishermen in Scarborough shoal. Two Chinese ships remained even after the Aquino government withdrew its ships.

Duterte takes pride that because of his friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Filipino fishermen are now allowed to fish in the area, which is being guarded by two Chinese ships.

It’s like a battered wife thankful that the husband has stopped beating her.

Duterte’s critics have scored his deference to China even  echoing  the position of China that historically South China Sea is theirs  as the name states.

In an ambush interview last April. Duterte said, “They really claim it as their own, noon pa iyan. Hindi lang talaga pumutok nang mainit. Ang nagpainit diyan iyong Amerikano. Noon pa iyan, kaya (It goes way back. The issue just did not erupt then. What triggered the conflict were the Americans. But it goes all the way back. That’s why it’s called) China Sea… sabi nga nila (they say) China Sea, historical na iyan. So hindi lang iyan pumuputok (It’s historical. The issue just had not erupted then) but this issue was the issue before so many generations ago.”

VERA Files fact-check about the name of South China Sea showed  that  South China Sea used to be called the Champa Sea, after the Cham people who established a great maritime kingdom in central Vietnam from the late 2nd to the 17th century.

That is contained in the book,  ‘The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea” by  Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

Carpio said it was the  Portuguese navigators who coined the name South China Sea.

“The ancient Malays also called this sea Laut Chidol or the South Sea, as recorded by Pigafetta in his account of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world from 1519 to 1522. In Malay, which is likewise derived from the Austronesian language, laut means sea and kidol means south,” he further said.

“The ancient Chinese never called this sea the South China Sea. Their name for the sea was “Nan Hai” or the South Sea, he adds.

Reading Duterte’s blurting the Chinese line on the South China name, Ruben Carranza, former commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government and now director of the Reparative Justice Program at the International Center for Transitional Justice, said “In football, that would be an ‘own goal.’

That’s when a player delivers the ball to the opponent’s goal.



 (Contains links to information about Vietnam’s renewed efforts to extract oil and gas from the sea bed)

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Dominance of the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean would solidify China’s One Belt One Road project
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The international arbitration court in the Hague said on July 12, 2016, that China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law — making the Vietnamese and Philippine claims on South China Sea islands valid and lawful.
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China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning at Hong Kong

Philippines: A year of walking with China

July 5, 2017
As soon as President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office last year, he announced that his administration would pursue an “independent foreign policy.”

This piece is a part of a news analysis series on the first 12 months of the Duterte administration.

President Rodrigo Duterte took an abrupt turn from his predecessor regarding his foreign policy. As soon as he assumed office last year, he announced that his administration would pursue an “independent foreign policy.”

Article II, Section VII of the 1987 Constitution provides that, “The State shall pursue an independent foreign policy. In its relations with other states, the paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest, and the right to self-determination.”

It appears, however, that pursuing a so-called independent policy would mean appeasing China following the ruling of an international arbitral tribunal on the Manila’s complaint against Beijing’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

On July 12, 2016, the United Nations-backed tribunal based in the Hague, Netherlands issued a ruling invalidating China’s historic claims over the disputed waters. Beijing refused to honor the ruling and reiterated its position that it has a historic and legal claim over the South China Sea.

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Duterte has met with Chinese President Xi Jinping thrice since the issuance of the arbitral ruling. The first was during his visit to Beijing in October 2016 where the two leaders signed several agreements between their governments. They met for the second time in November 2016 on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit in Lima, Peru. During their bilateral meeting, Duterte assured Xi that he would adopt a foreign policy that veers toward a China-led regional development.

A few days after the conclusion of the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila, Duterte received a phone call from Xi to discuss regional issues and how to strengthen ties with the 10-member regional bloc’s regional partners. This follows a watered-down ASEAN chairman statement which failed to mention the international tribunal’s ruling or militarization in the South China Sea. The ASEAN, under Philippine chairmanship, is set to push through with the enactment of a code of conduct on the South China Sea before the year ends.

Last May, Duterte went again to Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. The president, however, skipped the opening ceremony of the two-day forum. The Chinese president had pledged $124 billion for his Silk Road plan which could help developing countries like the Philippines.

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Duterte was able to raise with his Chinese counterpart the arbitral ruling during his second visit to Beijing in May but the president said Xi threatened that China would go to war if the Philippines will drill oil in the South China Sea. The Philippine delegation did not raise the arbitral ruling during the start of the discussions on a bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea. China and Southeast Asian nations only settled for a “gentleman’s agreement” to prevent war or to keep the situation in the region stable.

De La Salle University Professor Renato De Castro said that the notion of shifting to an independent foreign policy is rhetorical and without substance as it would mean independence from the United States.

“For Mr. Duterte, independence means separation from US but in exchange for becoming like Cambodia or Laos—countries that are deemed tributary kingdoms of China,” De Castro said in an exclusive interview with

On October 2016, Duterte announced that he is cutting ties with the US, the Philippines’ longtime ally and trading partner. Days after the announcement, he clarified that the separation from the US is “not severance of ties.”

Duterte had expressed his intention to end the Philippines’ war games with the US during his first months in office. The first Balikatan military exercises under the Duterte administration was shortened, scaled down and focused on humanitarian assistance and disaster response instead.

Dindo Manhit, president of the private think tank Stratbase ADR Institute, shared the same sentiment, noting that seeking new friendships and disregarding traditional partners does not improve the country’s ability to preserve national interest.

“Above all, the Philippines’ interest as a smaller country is to ensure that international law prevails. International law is what evens the playing field between countries,” Manhit told, adding that the best proof of this is how the Philippines succeeded in its arbitration case against China.

The Philippines must be willing to use the arbitration ruling to strengthen its position if the bilateral consultation mechanism with China will work, Manhit said.

“Without a willingness to use the ruling to our advantage, what will our country be able to bring to discussion?” Manhit said.

However, a bilateral approach in resolving the maritime dispute would mean that the stronger power would be able to use its influence and resolve the dispute according to its terms, according to De Castro. Duterte appears to have chosen China’s goodwill and economic largess over the Hague ruling.

“Appeasements means that smaller power unilaterally extends concession to a bigger power. The Philippines has already set aside the Hague Ruling and has degraded its alliance with the US to earn China’s good will and possibly, some economic side-payments,” De Castro said.

Manhit, however, noted that there is still room for policies to change or for events to change the decision-making of the Duterte administration as it concludes its first year. The government is highly urged to reconsider its current approach on the issue.

On the other hand, De Castro warned that the Philippines may follow the footsteps of Cambodia and Laos as a result of being obliged for economic reasons to favor China following its investments in the country.

“He (Duterte) wants the Philippines to be independent from the U.S. but a tributary kingdom of China… We will become like Cambodia and Laos, extremely dependent and subservient to China. Associate Justice (Antonio) Carpio used the term ‘filandization,’” [sic] De Castro said.


A year of Duterte’s dystopian vision

A year of accelerated spending—or so they say

A year of battling through traffic and train queues

— Graphics by RP Ocampo


 (Contains links to several more related articles)

 (The Philippines should know that China has a nasty habit of not honoring agreements)

 (Has links to several related articles)

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China’s coast guard monitors and regulated fishing in the South China Sea

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Time To Take Action To Defend The Philippines

June 13, 2017
/ 12:22 AM June 13, 2017

I meant to write on Rizal and President Duterte, but taking part in the Defend Democracy Summit at the UP School of Economics on Monday brought me face to face with the human toll of the Duterte administration’s irresolution in defending the West Philippine Sea. We must make time to understand the Duterte era from a historical perspective; on Thursday, the Inquirer and the De La Salle University seek to do just that, with a historians’ forum on Philippine independence and the rise of China. But today—today I want to talk about Norma and Ping and the fishermen in Zambales they represent.

Let me belabor the obvious: The Defend Democracy Summit was called out of the sense that democracy in the Philippines today needs to be defended. The organizers defined four areas that needed defending: national sovereignty, human rights, democratic institutions, truth.

Assigned to the first workshop, I had the chance to listen to Prof. Jay Batongbacal, one of the world’s leading experts on the South China Sea disputes. (I added a few words on the Chinese view, from confusion in the 1930s about the location of the Spratlys to allegations in the English-language Chinese press of Philippine aggression in 2016.) In the discussion that followed, the diversity of the perspectives represented was striking: women, businessmen, students, environmentalists, political activists, fisherfolk. I was especially impressed by the intensity of the intervention of the likes of Norma and Ping, who represented fishermen from Zambales whose lives and livelihood are increasingly at risk.


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Not for lack of trying: The fishermen are organized, conduct roundtables in their communities, connect to local and national reporters. But since the start of the Duterte administration, they have found themselves at the mercy of the Chinese—and the authorities do not seem to be of any help. One of the representatives spoke of a recent incident where Chinese fishermen were arrested while poaching in internal waters, and a Chinese Embassy official appeared to tell police officers: “Philippine law does not apply to them (the poachers).” (I will try to get to the bottom of this incident.) He also vigorously rejected media reports that Filipino fishermen can now fish inside Scarborough Shoal.

A group of Zambales fishermen has been conducting meetings and workshops among themselves. In their last workshop, they came up with a list of five demands, in Filipino, that illustrates the immediate effect of the government’s failure to protect their way of life.

The five demands they addressed to the Duterte administration include:

Remove China’s illegal structures and stop certain practices that only favor China.

Allow fishermen to fish and to seek cover in Scarborough Shoal in times of typhoons and calamities.

Provide livelihood for fishermen’s families affected (by Chinese control of Scarborough Shoal since 2012).

Avoid classifying Scarborough as a marine sanctuary because in the end this will only become a fishing area for China.

Stop the illegal quarrying in Zambales used for the reclamation (of Chinese-occupied reefs) and the building of Chinese military structures, in the West Philippine Sea.

Another representative warned: “In five years, maybe in two years, Zambales will be out”—meaning out of fish stock, because of aggressive Chinese fishing.

Yesterday, June 12, was the 90th birthday of an extraordinary teacher who is, amazingly, still teaching. Onofre Pagsanghan, better known to generations of students at the Ateneo de Manila High School, and to thousands of students and parents who have heard his lectures in different schools across the country, as Mr. Pagsi, was—is—a spellbinding speaker. His gift is equal parts heart and craft; a lifetime of integrity and excellence becomes visible through his lectures, even his casual remarks.

What a privilege it was to study under him.

On Twitter: @jnery_newsstand

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(Contains links to previous related articles)



FILE photo provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac —  A Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law.