Heroic defenders of real Philippine sovereignty


“If the Filipino people have been looking for the heroes of 2019, let them look no further. They have Antonio Carpio and Albert del Rosario staring them in the face.”

At this time of year, with the present 12-month calendar period about to become a part of history, a thoughtful person scans the horizon in an effort to identify the individual or individuals who made the greatest contribution to the safeguarding and promotion of the Philippines’ real sovereignty.

I have qualified the Philippines’ sovereignty with the word “real” because in recent times the name of this country has been taken in vain so often. Many things said or done by foreigners and foreign institutions are assailed on the ground that they have been offensive toward Philippine sovereignty; critical pronouncements by foreign and international bodies with regard to the rights of certain citizens of this country readily come to mind. Protection of the rights of the citizens of this country are, of course, an important obligation of the Philippine government. But their rights do not rise to the level of real Philippine sovereignty.

Use of the phrase “real Philippine sovereignty” should be reserved for issues that relate to the territorial integrity and international status of the Philippines. These are the only issues in the defense of which the full attention and total force of the Philippine government should be deployed. Such issues partake of “geopoliticalness”; they are the real sovereignty issues. The maltreatment of a domestic helper by her Kuwaiti employer, while undoubtedly important, does not involve geopolitics in the real sense; the grabbing of parts of Philippine territory by China clearly does.

Thus, criticism of foreigners’ pronouncements and actions relating to issues of a non-geopolitical nature do not partake of defense of the real sovereign rights of the Philippines. They partake of defense of sovereign Philippine rights that are not real in the geopolitical and juridical sense. They are the counterpart of fake news.

This country has real sovereign rights that have been taken away from it by China, which was declared by the Permanent Court of Arbitration to have no rights whatsoever, historic or otherwise, to the isles and reefs in the South China Sea that historically have been associated with this country. Quick to claim infringements of Philippine sovereignty on issues that are not real in nature, the present government has acquiesced in China’s occupation of territory—such as the Spratly Island group—that historically has been associated with this country. It gets exercised when some international body on issues relating to citizen rights, but it does absolutely nothing to stop the Chinese authorities from preventing Filipino fishermen from engaging in their historical activity in waters that have been declared to be Philippine by historic right.

It has been left to individual Filipinos to defend the real sovereign rights of the Philippines in the South China. Their courageous advocacy—backed by personal research work—stands in stark contrast with the all-but-subservient posture of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

As the nation casts around for Filipinos who in 2019 demonstrated what true patriotism is, let it look in the direction of two individuals, namely newly-retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario. If the Filipino people have been looking for the heroes of 2019, let them look no further. They have Antonio Carpio and Albert del Rosario staring them in the face.

Messrs. Carpio and Del Rosario know what the false and the real sovereign rights of the Philippines are. They have not been concerned with the foreign-legislature criticisms of Duterte administration policy. What they have been concerned with is the real stuff of Philippine sovereignty—Philippine territory.

They have been, in 2019, the heroic defenders of real Philippine sovereignty.