By Jeffrey Damicog
Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Saturday (June 29) President Rodrigo Duterte should not call as “thoughtless and senseless” the constitutional provision requiring the state to protect its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) from other nations.
Carpio made the statement in response to Duterte who called this provision under Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution as “a provision for the thoughtless and senseless” since it cannot be used in telling China to keep out of Philippine territorial waters.
“This exclusivity is not a ‘thoughtless and senseless’ provision in our Constitution as President Rodrigo Duterte has unfortunately characterized,” Carpio said in his recognition day speech at the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
The magistrate reminded the Constitution mandates “the ‘use and enjoyment’ of these resources shall be reserved ‘exclusively’ for the Filipino people.”
“The ‘use and enjoyment’ of these resources cannot be shared with, or given away, to foreign nationals,” he stressed.
Carpio pointed out “China itself reserves all the natural resources in its own EEZ exclusively to Chinese citizens.”
“Why will we not accept and protect this exclusivity when the rest of the world is accepting and protecting this exclusivity? Surely, this exclusivity in the use and enjoyment of the resources in the EEZs, being the accepted norm in all civilized states of the world without exception, is not ‘thoughtless and senseless’,” he stated.
The Justice cited China was also one of the 167 states which ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which “reserved the use and enjoyment of all the natural resources n all the EEZs of the world exclusively to the respective adjacent coastal states.”
“The framers of our Constitution have incorporated this exclusivity in our Constitution. Even the small minority of states that have not ratified UNCLOS, like the United States of America, have adopted this exclusivity. International tribunals have declared this exclusivity as part of customary international law – which means it is the governing law for all states of the world,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Carpio renewed his calls to Filipinos to protect the country’s EEZ against other nations like China.
“We must protect this enormous wealth in our Exclusive Economic Zone in the West Philippine Sea for the benefit not only of the present generation of Filipinos, but also of future generations of Filipinos still to come. It is the duty of this present generation of Filipinos to protect this marine wealth, and hand it over to the next generation of Filipinos, who will also protect it for the next generation of Filipinos after them. This is the intergenerational duty of every generation of Filipinos in protecting our territorial integrity,” he said.
On the other hand, the magistrate agrees with the President that the Philippines should not go to war to China over the incursions in Philippine waters.
“Only a fool will go to war with China. It is clear that the specter of war is being raised only to intimidate the Filipino people into submitting to China’s encroachment of our EEZ,” he said.
“The correct recourse is to protect our territorial integrity through the rule of law,” Carpio added.
Carpio recounted that, when China seized Scarborough Shoal in 2012, “we did not send the Philippine Marines to retake Scarborough Shoal” but sent “our lawyers to The Hague to protect our territorial integrity by invalidating China’s nine-dashed line before an arbitral tribunal under UNCLOS.”
“We brought the resolution of the dispute to a forum where warships, warplanes, missiles and nuclear bombs do not count, and where the dispute would be resolved only in accordance with the rule of law. And we won an overwhelming victory. We thus protected our territorial integrity through the rule of law,” he boasted.