Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio doesn't consider the Duterte administration's refusal to file a protest against China over the presence of its ships in Sandy Cay, a Philippine land territory; treason because “treason is a technical word used during a war,” but he would call the non-act “disloyalty to the republic.”
“If you look at what we did in the past, every time China [said] something, we protested. We always kept our rights. That is why, I really appreciate what our DFA did before. Every time China does something, we protest. So we preserve our rights,” Carpio said in an interview after giving a talk on the maritime dispute in the South China Sea at St. Theresa's College in Quezon City.
The senior justice said that the failure of the Philippine government to protest China's actions in Sandy Cay would allow China to “claim later on that we consented” to their occupation of the area. “Every state will protest to preserve its rights,” Carpio said. “Protest is a peaceful means. You are not even showing a gun. You are just signing a diplomatic protest.”
Carpio reiterated his position that China's presence in Sandy Cay, which he considers territory as it is now permanently above water due to nearby dredging activity by the Chinese, was tantamount to an invasion after noting that the Chinese vessels have not left the area.
Carpio stressed that with China's continued aggressive claims in the South China Sea, “the Philippines is now facing its greatest national security threat since World War II.”
President Duterte and Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano have belittled Carpio's claim, with Mr. Duterte trivializing Sandy Cay as a mere sandbar.
The President and his foreign secretary may have differing views from Justice Carpio as far as the situation in the disputed areas of the South China Sea are concerned but it is ultimately the Filipino people that will either suffer or benefit from the course of action (or inaction) our government takes during this critical period in our history. While it is possible that Carpio could be panicking over the Duterte government's misplaced trust and confidence in China, the fact of the matter is that the Philippines cannot afford to lose any more territory to its island-grabbing neighbor. As Carpio says and Duterte does what both think is right and best for the country, China is taking advantage and gaining ground.
Is there a way that our country's best and brightest minds can stop squabbling and work together to protect our country's interests and territory before it is too late?*