Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned that billions of dollars will be lost to the economy if President Duterte continues to say that China has finally claimed the West Philippine Sea.
According to Carpio, China has the courage to go fishing in the Philippine sea because the president allowed it.
Billions of tons of fish, he said, have been deprived of Filipino fishermen who cannot fish because they are blocked by Chinese ships.
“Sinabi niya na may verbal agreement ako sa Tsina, kami ni President Xi Jinping. First of all, sa Saligang Batas natin, only Filipinos can fish our EEZ (exclusive economic zone), exclusively for Filipinos,” said Carpio.
“Labag sa Saligang Batas ‘yon (sinabi ni Duterte),” he added.
Carpio was referring to Duterte’s 2019 statements, which said the Philippines allowed the Chinese to fish in the West Philippine Sea.
According to Carpio, the issue also affected the Philippines’ search for oil and natural gas in the Reed Bank, which could source the country’s energy.
Fishing, oil-gas exploration affected by West Philippine Sea issue
“‘Yong Malampaya na lang, ang estimate niyan, value ng gas reserve ay about $22 to $24 billion. ‘Yong Malampaya maliit ‘yan compared to Reed Bank, siguro doble ‘yong Reed Bank… Baka mayroon pang ibang katulad ng Reed Bank sa West Philippine Sea,” said Carpio.
Carpio insisted that Duterte should retract the statement that the arbitral ruling in favor of the Philippines on the issue of the West Philippine Sea against China is just a piece of paper and could be thrown away.
“I’m not looking at his liability, I’m looking at kung ano ang mawawala sa atin. Napaka-importante ‘yong oil and gas, napaka-importante ng isda. Wala akong pakialam kung makulong siya,” said Carpio.
Carpio also does not believe that China will wage war on the Philippines if the government continues to fight for the Philippines’ right to the West Philippine Sea.
He also regretted that his debate with President Duterte did not continue, which the chief executive himself started the challenge.
Despite this, Malacañang and President Duterte’s allies continue to insist that the government has not given up its fight for the West Philippine Sea.