Justice Antonio T. Carpio

Good afternoon to everyone.

Allow me to thank the sponsors of this Exhibit – the Institute of Maritime and Ocean Affairs headed by Atty. Elma Leogardo, the Maritime Law Association of the Philippines headed by Atty. Iris Baguilat, and the De La Salle University represented here this afternoon by Vice Chancellor Bro. Michael Broughton – for holding this Exhibit of the ancient maps that I discussed in my lecture on the West Philippine Sea. That lecture was held here in the De La Salle University last June 6 of this year.

I also wish to thank everyone for attending this launching. Special thanks to Secretary Albert del Rosario, Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Secretary Leila de Lima, Ombudswoman Conchita Carpio Morales, and PCGG Chair Andres Bautista, for taking time from their busy schedule to grace this occasion. We are honored with your presence here this afternoon.

The maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea could be more easily resolved if all the claimant States agreed on two things: first, on the applicable law to govern the maritime dispute, and second, on the historical facts on the West Philippine Sea.

Fortunately, all the claimant States are parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS. However, each claimant State has its own version of the historical facts in the West Philippine Sea. While historical facts are not material in the settlement of maritime disputes under UNCLOS, different versions of historical facts as claimed by each State are converting the dispute into an irreconcilable conflict, largely because alleged historical facts fuel extreme nationalism among the citizens of claimant States.

The citizens of claimant States must discern for themselves the actual historical facts – which are graphically illustrated in ancient maps, even as we acknowledge that ancient maps do not constitute evidence of sovereignty. In this way we respect historical facts, not historical lies.

The focus of this exhibit is on Scarborough Shoal: which of the two claimant States, China or the Philippines, has the most historical links to Scarborough Shoal based on ancient maps? Does Scarborough Shoal appear on any ancient Chinese map, whether made by Chinese authorities or foreigners? Does Scarborough Shoal appear on any ancient Philippine map, whether made by Philippine authorities or foreigners?

Of course, these are not the only questions to ask in finding out the actual historical facts in the West Philippine Sea. But they go a long way in resolving in the minds of citizens about the truth of claims and counter-claims that ancient maps favor one claimant State or the other. That would be a good start to an understanding by citizens of all claimant States of the actual historical facts in the West Philippine Sea – either to restrain extreme nationalism fueled by historical lies, or to give hope to a just and durable settlement of the dispute based not only on UNCLOS, but also on respect for actual historical facts.

To ensure that this Exhibit can also be viewed by citizens of China, as well as by all citizens of the world, our exhibit sponsor – the Institute of Maritime and Ocean Affairs – has uploaded an on-line mirror image of this Exhibit at its website. The Institute of Maritime and Ocean Affairs will also bring this physical Exhibit to other Universities in Metro Manila.

Thank you, enjoy the Exhibit, and a pleasant afternoon to all.