Sailors prepare FA-18 Hornet fighter jets for take off during a routine training aboard the US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea on April 10, 2018. (File photo from AFP)
President Rodrigo Duterte may have chosen to set aside an international tribunal ruling that invalidated China’s claim to nearly all of the South China Sea, but the world’s naval powers are enforcing it, according to acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio.
“There is clearly enforcement of a core part of the award by the world’s naval powers, even if there is inexplicable reluctance on the part of the Duterte administration to enforce the award,” Carpio said on Monday at a forum in Manila ahead of the second anniversary of the July 12, 2016, ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
Ruling on a case brought by the Philippines, the court declared China’s claim to nearly 90 percent of the South China Sea invalid under international law and said Beijing violated Manila’s sovereign right to fish and explore for resources in the West Philippine Sea, waters within the Southeast Asian nation’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the strategic waterway.
Chinese aid, investments
The ruling came down shortly after the President assumed office. Instead of seeking international help to enforce it, however, he put it on the back burner and traveled to Beijing to woo the Chinese for aid and investments.
To spice up his China courtship, the President declared an “independent” foreign policy, deemphasizing relations with the United States, the Philippines’ defense treaty ally, and reducing the size and scope of drills with the US military.