Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario should stop “misleading” and “endangering” Filipinos with their “illegal” statements on the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Malacañang said on Sunday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark in response to criticism made by Carpio and del Rosario over President Rodrigo Duterte’s careful and calibrated approach on the disputed sea.
He acknowledged that the Philippines has territorial and maritime claims and entitlements in the WPS, but emphasized that the country’s claims and entitlements are also being disputed by other states.
Citing international law, Roque said the Philippines is required to promote its claims and entitlements as well as manage and resolve disputes through “peaceful and legal means”.
“All of these means start and end with negotiation. Even when countries implement decisions under UNCLOS [United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea], they must negotiate,” he said.
Roque pointed out that this is exactly why Duterte has decided to implement “careful, calculated, calibrated” policies on the WPS by consistently asserting its claims and entitlements in bilateral talks with China and in multilateral fora like the United Nations.
“He (Duterte) knows that, as a responsible member of the world community, the Philippines must pursue its claims by legal and diplomatic means. We must lay the basis for negotiation, by building a relationship of mutual trust and confidence, and without engaging in name-calling and brinkmanship,” he added.
Roque said Carpio’s and Del Rosario have repeatedly demanded that the President adopt “hardline all or nothing policies.”
However, he shrugged them off as “outbursts” which are “not helping our country.”
“History shows that countries who demand all or nothing policies often get nothing at all, or even end up provoking war. This is exactly what the President is avoiding. Because all or nothing policies are not only inconsistent with international law and international reality—they are dangerous and they will not work,” he said.
Roque noted that Carpio and Del Rosario know that all or nothing policies were ineffective, yet continue to press the Duterte government to strongly assert the country’s sovereignty in the WPS.
He urged the two former officials of the previous administration of President Benigno Aquino III, who kept mum when China was building structures in the area at that time and hauling soil from the Philippines, to leave international relations to Duterte, who has foresight, information, and constitutional mandate to make sound foreign policy decisions.
“They should let President Rodrigo Roa Duterte pursue his careful, calibrated, and calculated foreign policy to its ultimate success,” he said.
Carpio earlier said that Filipinos should demand for a leader who will defend Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights in the WPS.
Del Rosario, for his part, urged Duterte to do his utmost to protect the WPS and to be wary of China’s duplicity. SOVEREIGNPH