ROUGH CUTS| Their words are brave, but…

SENIOR Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonio Carpio categorically said during a forum  Wednesday last week that the Philippines under the Duterte administration has “dropped ball in sea dispute”with China.

The forum was part of the activities marking the second anniversary of the Philippines’ supposed win over China in the Court of Arbitration in The Hague where the administration of then President Benigno Simeon Aquino III questioned the Chinese claim of some islands in the West Philippine Sea.

Justice Carpio also blasted the Duterte administration for “lack of strategic policy” in pursuing the Philippines’ claim on the disputed islands. Carpio added in his forum speech that the “stunning victory became strangely orphaned when the Duterte administration refused to celebrate the ruling” that invalidated China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea.

Ironically, the group that initiated the forum is the ADR Institute led by no other than former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario, one of the leading figures in the Philippine delegation that argued the West Philippine Sea case in The Hague. Carpio of course was one of the team members.

It now appears that both Carpio and Del Rosario abhor the Duterte administration’s strategy of preferring to mend fences and negotiations with China instead of insisting on invoking the ruling of the Court of Arbitration.

In his talk in the ADR Institute forum Justice Carpio wanted the Duterte administration to launch a campaign for international support for the arbitral ruling believing the notion that many countries are willing to support the Philippines to compel China to bow to the decision of The Hague-based court.

The International Court of Arbitration ruling was obtained by the Philippines July of 2015 or roughly eleven months to the time of the end of President Pnoy’s term of office June 30, 2016. The question now is, why did Justice Carpio, then Foreign Affairs Secretary Dedl Rosario and the rest of the Philippine team did not push the then President to initiate a massive international campaign for support? Why did they lay low instead and leave the matter to the new administration to do what they have in their minds as the best strategy to enforce the favorable ruling?

What if by chance either Justice Carpio or former Secretary Del Rosario is President of the Philippines since 2016? For certain any of them would have undertaken an international campaign to get massive support from other governments to have the ruling of The hague-based court implemented. And what if China would insist on not honoring the decision, will Carpio or Del Rosario seek the United Nations issuance of sanctions against China?  Will the UN with China being an influential part of the UN’s 5-member Security Council authorize a collective action to the Philippines and its supposed allies to declare war against China just to impose the International Arbitral ruling?

Will the United States which the Philippines claims to be its biggest ally and supporter be willing to lead a coalition to go to war against China, the US’s biggest trading partner?

And lastly, these two gentlemen seem to portray that they and their minions are the only ones who have the monopoly of the best ideas to deal with China. So, why would they not put up a political party and run for elective possitions in the succeeding elections?

If they think the Filipinos believe that their ideas would end the West Philippoine Sea problem, then they can be assured of winning in the election. When they are in place, say in the Presidency or the legislative branch, then they will have all the freedom to put into actions what they have in their minds.

Meanwhile, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay who led the Philippine Team in arguing the case in The Hague was quoted by some national broadsheets as saying that the current administration’s non-enforcement of the award has been “a year of disappointment after disappointment.”

Disappointment for whom, to the Filipino people who stand to suffer the most of the consequences of any action brought about by impulse? Or, is it disappointment for those who pride themselves as the key players in that hollow International Court of Arbitration win?

Why is the decision hollow? It is because the supposed very influential internal court cannot even execute its own decision and simply leave to the winning protagonist in the legal battle to find ways to have the favorable ruling implemented.

There it is people. With all those brave talks of the Senior Associate Justice and his fellow The Hague team there are existing  realities that they apparently did not see, or probably refuse to see for their own selfish reason.

Now wait; Carpio will soon be reaching compulsory retirement age for Supreme Court justices. That would be his most opportune time to help government have the favorable ruling from the International Court of Arbitration imposed on China the way he wants it.

Posted in Opinion