Patriot games


Antonio T. Carpio is arguably the most patriotic Filipino of the 21st century. His bona fides in nation building are unassailable. The esteemed career in the legal profession; in the Executive branch where, for his exemplary services, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit; and in the Judiciary with his long and distinguished tenure as the reliably judicious and scholarly benchmark of the Supreme Court (at turbulent epochs in history). These accomplishments are surpassed only by his personal crusade to take the lead in the defense of our patrimony in the Philippine Sea. There is not an iota of danger that anyone in control of his faculties would view him with lens other than that applied to the great men of our times.

Yet here comes Sal. Secretary Salvador Panelo has always understood the law in his own inimitable way. His lens on life is by no means rose colored. Its more psychedelic. Or as colorful as his sartorial palette.

But it is myopic. He denigrates Justice Carpio’s conscientious warning about the vulnerability to seizure of our natural gas deposits in the Chico River Pump Irrigation Loan Agreement. It seems more like a conspiratorial hoodwink than the moral outrage of a “patriot”. Seriously, is the argument to say “ssshhh, lets hope China refuses to see that we’ve surrendered every-thing, including the kitchen sink?”

Asset trap. Justice Carpio clarified that the terms of the loan make our patrimonial assets susceptible to China in the event of default. The gas fields at Recto bank are patrimonial.

Pointing out our own weakness doesn’t make us weaker. It strengthens us and provides the opportunity to scramble at correction so as to improve our position. In fact, the good Justice has cautioned that, for future loans, we should veer away from this template’s collateralization of patrimonial assets as well as the resort to arbitration under China’s International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission. Awards of this commission are final and binding and, under the loan agreement, the Philippines expressly waives sovereign immunity on the enforcement of arbitral awards.