- SC justice reminded president he is duty-bound to protect Scarborough Shoal
- He said Duterte has five options he can use to protect shoal
- He also told president to avoid remarks which would encourage China’s behavior
MANILA, Philippines – Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reminded President Rodrigo Duterte of his constitutional duty to protect the country’s territory — which includes Scarborough Shoal.
Reacting to the president’s remarks about not being able to stop China’s construction activities in the West Philippine Sea, Carpio said Duterte is bound by the Constitution and the country’s baselines law (RA 9522) to safeguard the country’s stake in the hotly-disputed shoal.
Carpio, a member of the team which argued the country’s case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, said the president has five options to defend the shoal at his disposal in light of China’s military superiority.
The first, he said, was to file a strong formal protest similar to what the Vietnamese did when China sent cruise ships to the Paracel Islands.
The second option was to send Philippine Navy ships to patrol the shoal and invoke the country’s defense treaty with the United States should they be attacked.
“Send the Philippine Navy to patrol Scarborough Shoal. If the Chinese attack Philippine Navy vessels, then invoke the Phil-US Mutual Defense Treaty which covers any armed attack on Philippine navy vessels operating in the South China Sea,” GMA News quoted him as saying.
The third option would be to have the US declare the shoal as part of Philippine territory covered under the defense treaty similar to what they did for Japan and the Senkaku Islands.
“The US has declared the Senkakus as part of Japanese territory for purposes of the US-Japan mutual defense treaty,” he said.
The fourth option would be to accept the standing US offer to conduct joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea.
“This will demonstrate joint Philippine and US determination to prevent China from building on Scarborough Shoal,” he said.
Lastly, Carpio also urged Duterte to refrain from making comments which would embolden China to become more aggressive.
“Any statement that the Philippines cannot stop China from building on Scarborough Shoal actually encourages China to build on Scarborough Shoal,” he said.