MANILA – Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Monday said it is incorrect to refer to the areas in the South China Sea formerly contested by the Philippines and China as “disputed.”
Carpio, who was part of the team which argued for the Philippines’ ownership of the areas before the arbitration court, previously explained that the West Philippine Sea refers to the body of water consisting of the Philippines’ territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, and extended continental shelf. Parts of this area falls within China’s nine-dash-line.
When to use ‘West PH Sea’ and ‘South China Sea’
“The legal ownership is not disputed anymore, so we should not say that the area is disputed because the moment that you say that the area is disputed, China will say ‘You see, it’s still disputed,'” he told ANC’s Headstart.
“Don’t say that because the tribunal has already ruled with finality. There’s no appeal. We’re the owners of the resources there. There is no legal dispute as to the ownership of oil, fish, and gas. It belongs exclusively to the Philippines. The only problem is how to get China to comply,” he said.
The court in 2016 rejected Beijing’s historic claims to most of the South China Sea, acting on the case brought by former President Benigno Aquino III after a standoff between Chinese coast guard ships and a Philippine naval vessel in the Scarborough Shoal.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, set this decision aside as he distanced Manila from its traditional ally, the United States, and embraced China, seeking financial and military aid.