PHL Supreme Court Associate Justice Defends PHL Position in South China Sea Dispute with China

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NEW YORK – Philippine Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio has underscored the importance of the country’s claims in the disputed West Philippine Sea and South China Sea in an hour-long lecture at the Philippine Center in New York.
The full-packed lecture was attended by members of New York City’s Consular Corps, the academe, think-tanks, business and legal practitioners, and Filipino community members led by Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and Consul General Mario L. De Leon, Jr.
The event was co-organized by the Philippine Consulate General, the Asia Society, and lawyer and Filipino-American leader Loida Nicolas-Lewis and the US Pinoys for Good Governance.


  Ambassador Cuisia praised Justice Carpio for an impressive lecture and his research on China’s ancient maps and how they relate to international law. He said the lecture gave the diaspora “a better understanding why the Philippines brought its case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration after exhausting all diplomatic efforts and emphasized that maritime security in the South China Sea will continue to impact US-China relations and China’s relations with its neighbors.”

, Consul General De Leon welcomed Filipino community members who came from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania in support of the event. He acknowledged the breadth of Justice Carpio’s scholarly work that speaks of his greatness as a jurist, an intellectual and a Filipino. “The Consulate General and the Filipino community are honored to host Justice Carpio in the Big Apple,” he added.

The Consul General also acknowledged the collaborative tri-partnership between the Consulate General, the Asia Society – an internationally recognized educational and policy institution in New York – led by its Executive Vice President Tom Nagorski, and Atty. Loida Nicolas Lewis of the US Pinoys for Good Governance, whose initiative and support made the event possible.

In his hour-long audio-visual lecture, Justice Carpio presented the strength of the Philippines’ position anchored on cartographic maps, provisions of maritime and customary international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

He underscored that the root cause of the dispute is China’s assertion of the nine-dashed line claim which gobbles up 85.7% of the South China Sea, including the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Indonesia. “China did not provide any legal basis for the dashes nor the dashes with fixed coordinate,” he emphasized.

Justice Carpio further expressed concern over China’s “creeping expansion” as it adopts an assertive maritime/ military policy in the South China Sea, citing China’s seizure from the Philippines of Subi Reef in 1988 and Mischief Reef in 1995; China’s claim on Reed Bank in 2011; China’s seizure in 2012 of Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines and of Luconia Shoals in 2013 from Malaysia; imposition of the Hainan 2014 Fishery Regulations; and the installation of an oil rig along the coast of Vietnam. All these demonstrate beyond doubt that China is claiming sovereignty and jurisdiction over disputed waters, he explained.

He also emphasized that while China is a signatory to UNCLOS and the Declaration of Conduct in the South China Sea, it chose to undertake actions in contravention of both agreements. Because of China’s dredging activities, 7 reefs in the South China Sea’s coral reefs, representing 34% of the world’s total, were completely destroyed, he said.

Furthermore, Justice Carpio stressed that because of the Philippines’ strong position, support among ASEAN member economies is growing. He added that the significant role of the international community also matters, citing the G7’s support for the Philippines and concern over China’s reclamation activities and military build-up in the South China Sea. He cited a clarification made by Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-Jeou, whose Kuomintang party in 1947 adopted the nine-dashed lines, that the extent of China’s claims only extends to “the islands and their adjacent three nautical miles” (now 12 NM) and that no claim was being made for other sea regions. The latter could be a face-saving exit for China, he opined.

After the lecture, a one-on-one, talk show-type interview between Justice Carpio and Mr. Nagorski, who acted as moderator, took place. This was followed by an open forum. Mr. Nagorski noted the audience’s very enthusiastic reception to Justice Carpio’s presentation which he described as “compelling.”

Mr. Nagorski is a seasoned journalist who has conducted high-profile interviews of statesmen and world leaders. Prior to his stint in Asia Society, he was Foreign Editor for World News Tonight and was a recipient of eight Emmy Awards as well as the Dupont Award for Excellence in international coverage.

At the end of the program, Consul General De Leon and Mr. Nagorski presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Justice Carpio,

The Consul General and Mrs. Eleanor De Leon also hosted a dinner in honor of Justice Carpio and his delegation after the event.

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