Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday, 24 June applauded the Philippine government’s decision to cancel the joint exploration with China.
In an interview, Carpio agreed with DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. that if the Philippines went forward with the contract, a constitutional crisis would have arisen.
“China suddenly changes its mind and said, “We will continue with the third agreement to finalize everything if the Philippines will agree to remove that first whereas clause,” which says ” whereas the oil and gas belong to the Philippines”, and also remove that phrase “the contract shall be governed by Philippine Law,” Carpio said.
“That’s the problem, China suddenly changes its mind at the last minute, and demanded that we abandon our Constitution, abandon the arbitral award. Of course, no government can agree to that. It’s a good thing that Secretary Locsin announced that those negotiations which resulted in two agreements and there was supposed to be a third agreement have been finally terminated,” he added.
Carpio said that the decision would be also against the 2016 Arbitral ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration that the Philippines won against China.
“That’s the abyss that Secretary Locsin was referring to. We cannot agree to that because that will be unconstitutional, that will be against the constitution because the constitution says, “The State must protect its marine wealth within its Exclusive Economic Zone”, and its also against the Arbitral Award which says that Reed Bank belongs to the Philippines because that is within our 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone,” he said.
Carpio also urged President Rodrigo Duterte to revoke another deal he entered with Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2016, saying that the incoming Marcos administration will not be burdened by the agreement made by Duterte.
“He (Duterte) allowed the Chinese to fish in our Exclusive Economic Zone. That’s against the Constitution and as he leaves office, he must declare that agreement of his with Xi Jinping would expire as he leaves office because we don’t want the next administration to be burdened with that agreement between President Duterte and Xi Jinping that the Chinese could fish in our Exclusive Economic Zone,” he said.
During the celebration of the DFA’s 124th Founding Anniversary on Thursday, Locsin announced that Duterte ordered to terminate of the joint exploration talks with China.
“The president had spoken. I carried out his instructions to the letter: oil and gas discussions are terminated completely. Nothing is pending; everything is over. Three years on and we had not achieved our objective of developing oil and gas resources so critical for the Philippines — but not at the price of sovereignty; not even a particle of it,” Locsin said.
He also said that the Philippines did not surrender a single inch of the country’s territory.
“We have not surrendered a single inch of territory or a drop of our waters. Not by word or deed have we weakened our right to everything in the West Philippine Sea. Without inviting pity by asking, we achieved an international consensus that right is with us and might cannot ever take it away,” Locsin said.
Locsin said that he affirmed Duterte’s independent foreign policy, where he also drew a blood-red line in the West Philippine Sea.
“I came here on that first day on the job and affirmed the president’s independent foreign policy. “friends to all, enemies to none” had a nice ring to it. But I rephrased it with realism to “friend to friends, enemy to enemies, and the worst enemy to false friends.” We have lost more from faithless friends than open enemies,” he said.
“I drew a blood red line in the West Philippine Sea. You here, in the audience, met me more than halfway to hold that line; firing diplomatic protests at intruders in our waters; not missing a single transgression; nor tempering the severity of your response,” he added.