SC Justice counters Duterte: Militarization in South China Sea for PH, not U.S.
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 22) — China’s continued militarization in disputed islands in the South China Sea is a national threat, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned on Thursday.
“Every military and security analyst I know here and abroad agree that those military structures are designed to enforce the nine-dash line as China’s national boundary,” Carpio said on CNN Philippines’ The Source. “In other words, [they’re] there to grab the (exclusive economic zone) of the Philippines.”
Carpio was responding to President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that China’s military bases were developed to counter the United States.
“It’s really intended against those who the Chinese think will destroy them, and that is America. Wala tayong kasali diyan [We’re not involved],” Duterte said.
Duterte then reiterated that the Philippines could not afford to go to war. Under his term, the country has had warmer relations with the eastern giant, with Philippine officials refusing to raise the arbitral tribunal ruling that favors Philippine claims over the islands.
Carpio said that the dispute between China and the U.S. was about freedom of navigation and overflight, and China’s presence on the disputed islands was for a different purpose.
He said the bases were “daggers pointed at our national security.”
“From those islands, fighter jets can reach Palawan in less than 20 minutes. Radar facilities in those islands can detect any aircraft that lands or takes off from Palawan,” said Carpio.
“They can easily send patrols to the Reed Bank to stop us from getting the gas,” he added.
The Associate Justice recalled an incident in 2011 when a seismic surveying ship from the Philippines was blocked access to Reed Bank, a feature within the Philippines’ EEZ.