China critic loses bid to become Philippines’ chief justice


Duterte appointees poised to dominate high court

MANILA — A high-profile critic of Beijing’s military buildup in the South China Sea has lost his bid to become the Philippine Supreme Court’s next chief justice.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and three other contenders, lost to Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, who took the oath on Wednesday after he was picked by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Carpio has been the acting chief justice since the post was vacated by Teresita Leonardo-De Castro last month. He is the most senior magistrate, having been appointed in 2001, while Bersamin entered the high court in 2009.

But Carpio’s anti-China stance has clashed with the foreign policy of Duterte, who has embraced China and toned down criticism of Beijing’s land-reclamation activities in the waters between the two countries as well as in nearby areas where other Asian nations have overlapping territorial claims.

Carpio had spoken out against Beijing’s activity in the South China Sea at local and international events, even before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in a dispute between the two countries in July 2016.