MANILA, Philippines — Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks that he would invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty with America may just be another of the Philippine leader’s jokes.
In an interview with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s “Give Us This Day,” Duterte said Wednesday: “I’m calling now America. I’m invoking the RP-US pact.” He added: “I would like America to gather all their 7th Fleet in front of China. I’m asking them now. I will join them.”
READ: ‘Invoking’ defense pact, Duterte calls on US to send fleet to China
The firebrand leader also said that he would bring Carpio and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario “on the boat where [the] admiral of the US” would be riding and implied fighting would start then.
In a statement sent to reporters, the senior justice said that Duterte may just be pulling another joke, “just like his jetski joke.”
Carpio was referring to Duterte’s campaign promise that he would go to the West Philippine Sea on a jet ski to assert Manila’s claim that he later said was all for talk. “It was just a story. You believed it?” he said in Filipino while chuckling.
Carpio, meanwhile, said: “The president knows that the Philippines can invoke the Phil-US Mutual Defense Treaty only if there is an armed attack on Phillippine territory or Philippine military ships or aircraft. This has not happened.”
Treaty only for defense
Carpio stressed that the treaty with the US “operates only for self-defense, not for aggression against another state.”
The senior magistrate, whom Duterte has earlier called stupid for criticizing the government’s policy in the West Philippine Sea, noted that the Philippine Constitution and the United Nations Charter prohibits a war of aggression.
“A war of aggression makes leaders of the aggressor state liable for an international crime subject to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court,” he also said.
The Philippines, under Duterte, withdrew from the international tribunal which took effect on March 2019.
The chief executive cited “outrageous” attacks on him and his administration and the supposedly illegal attempt by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to place him under the Hague-based court’s jurisdiction as reasons for the country’s pullout. — Kristine Joy Patag