Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio expressed worry over the possibility of President Rodrigo Duterte’s concession of the sovereignty over the Panatag Shoal in return for China’s inducements on October 15, Saturday.
Carpio stated that, “If Duterte concedes sovereignty, it is a culpable violation of the Constitution, a ground for impeachment… But the more important repercussion is, once Duterte concedes sovereignty, we can never recover it because China will never give it back.
Carpio fears that the Philippine Supreme Court will not be able to void the decision if Dutere were to concede as “China will not be bound by the ruling of the Philippine Supreme Court.” He goes on to say that “only an international court can void the concession” as long as China “voluntarily submits” but China has so far ignored the Hague ruling, or international ruling, regarding the sovereignty of the disputed islands.
Carpio is anxious that in return of the Filipino fishermen’s freedom to fish on Scarborough Shoal as well as the loans and grants for infrastructure that the President is looking forward to from China, President Duterte may “recognize China’s sovereignty over the shoal.”
President Duterte is set to make a state visit from October 18 to 21 in China in order to discuss about trade and investments, setting aside the issue over the West Philippine Sea.
Although the ruling “has no jurisdiction over sovereignty issues, only maritime issues”, Carpio articulated that according to the Republic Act 9522 (Baselines Law), the country “exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction” over Panatag Shoal.
In his latest statement about the West Philippine Sea, Duterte told the Philippine media in his pre-departure speech before flying to Brunei for his state visit that he will not bargain with Chinese leaders over the West Philippine Sea.
“We will continue to insist that it is ours and the international tribunal decision will be taken up but there will be no hard imposition,” Duterte said.
“It will remain a special concern and I will be very careful not to bargain anything because after all, I cannot give what is not mine and it is something I am not empowered to do,” he added.