Carpio, ‘defender of rule of law,’ retires



SENIOR Associate Justice Antonio Carpio will remain a staunch defender of judicial independence and rule of law even after his retirement.

United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd stressed this on Friday as they lauded Carpio for his integrity and “long, productive and trailblazing career in the Supreme Court.”

Carpio retired on Saturday, October 26, ending 18 years of service as a member of the high tribunal.

“Congratulations to Justice Carpio on his retirement after a distinguished judicial career,” Kim said on Twitter.

“Many at the US Embassy have had the honor of working with him over the years, and I know he will continue to be a strong voice for justice and the rule of law in the Philippines,” he added, also on Twitter.

Pimentel, meanwhile, described Carpio as a “true patriot, a great defender of judicial independence and a staunch supporter of judicial reforms.”

“Justice Carpio is the embodiment of credibility. And because he is credible, he has become the beacon, which guides us when we want to know what the truth is and where right is,” the senator said.

Pimentel added: “Justice Carpio’s decisions and opinions are always well-researched, well-argued, solidly based on facts and evidence, and objective. Hence, they are always just. And through this just man, justice is achieved.”

Amid China’s aggression and incursion in the West Philippine Sea (WPS or South China Sea), the Philippine government under then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd filed in 2013 an arbitration case, which is based on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) to settle the maritime dispute.

Carpio was part of the Philippine delegation who argued the Philippines’ case before the PCA, along with former solicitors general Francis Jardeleza and Florin Hilbay, then-Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and then-Justice secretary Leila de Lima, among others.

On July 12, 2016, the PCA released a decision upholding the Philippines’ sovereign rights in the WPS and declaring that China’s controversial “historical” claim, outlined by a nine-dash line covering almost 90 percent of the contested waters, had no legal basis in international law.

The PCA also ruled that China’s large-scale land reclamation had “caused severe harm to the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems,” thereby violating the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone.

Detained Senator de Lima, meanwhile, expressed support for Carpio’s call for the creation of a “truth movement” to help rectify China’s fake historical claim on the disputed islands in the WPS.

Carpio called for a WPS “truth movement,” which he described as “a people’s movement using freedom of expression to explain the historical truth about the South China Sea.”

He recounted how the Chinese government has been teaching its citizens that their country owned the WPS for over 2,000 years, despite the PCA’s decision in 2016.

De Lima agreed that the creation of such truth movement would help the Chinese in better understanding the history of the WPS and eventually help them put on added pressure to the Chinese government to stop showing disrespect to the international law.

“I fully support Justice Carpio’s call for a truth movement to push back against China by reaching out to the Chinese people, who occasionally travel outside their country and educate them about China’s distorted historical claim in the South China Sea,” she said.

“After all, the best way to disprove the lies peddled by the Chinese government to its people is to counter it by spreading the truth: that China does not own the entire South China Sea and that it has, in fact, violated international law by building military bases on artificial islands within our exclusive economic zone,” she added.

Carpio, ‘defender of rule of law,’ retires