FORMER Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio will go down in our history as one of the biggest liars ever, over a public discourse affecting our national interest.
Only Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison overshadows Carpio as the country’s biggest fabricator in his lie Philippine democracy is entirely an exploiter’s tool and in his Manichean mindset US imperialism is the devil incarnate.
For Carpio, the devil is China.
Sison’s lies had traction because he exploited the emotions boiling out of people’s misery. Carpio is exploiting humankind’s ancient tribalism in its modern form of xenophobia. Both also stoke the infantile sense of victimhood; in Sison’s worldview, by the US as the opressor; in Carpio’s, by the slant-eyed “bully” in the region.
Indeed, scoundrels from Hitler and Mussolini to Pol Pot and Trump had very easily fooled their peoples, even to go to war, by stirring up their countrymen’s innate jingoism. What is sickening in Carpio’s case is while he paints himself as a crusader against the Chinese superpower, he is unwittingly or wittingly serving the interests of the US, which has even openly announced its campaign to contain the rise of China. Carpio certainly demonstrates the truth of the 18th century writer Samuel Johnson’s adage: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
A sentence in an article in this newspaper the other day, also prominent in the 11 ignorant senators’ resolution on the South China Sea issue, repeated one of Carpio’s biggest lies: “In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague invalidated China’s claim in the WPS and upheld the Philippines’ sovereignty in the disputed territory.”
That is such a mammoth lie. For starters, it was not the “Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)” that heard and ruled on the Philippine suit vs China. Because the PCA has had staff and office since the turn of the century, a website, a record-keeping system and an impressive hall for hearings, the PCA was contracted as the arbitration’s registrar, i.e., for its offices, its secretarial services, waiters to keep the coffee flowing and for its halls. None of the arbitration panel members were connected at all with the PCA. The PCA offices simply provided secretarial services really.
The suit could have instead chosen as “registrar” the Association Française d’Arbitrage or the Dubai International Arbitration Center instead of the PCA and it wouldn’t have mattered. But then US propaganda experts behind the suit knew they could easily confuse people. It was the PCA that decided on the Philippine suit. The arbitration panel was simply a five-man ad hoc body chosen by the president of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, who was a Japanese national and by SolGen. Florin Hilbay since China refused to participate in the arbitration.
Carpio’s big lie, in Hitlerian fashion repeated again and again to make it seem true, is the “PCA invalidated China’s claim and upheld the Philippines’ sovereignty over disputed territories.”
This is a total lie. No international court (unless two claimants agree to submit the case for it to decide) has the authority to uphold the sovereignty claims of one nation, or reject the claim of another.
What the panel declared as without basis under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) as the so-called nine-dash line, which a Kuomintang bureaucrat sketched in 1946 on China’s maps to indicate the island groups in the South China Sea (SCS) China claimed as part of its territory but which the Chinese never claimed as the basis for its sovereign claims in that area.
In his e-book, Carpio claimed: “China’s nine-dashed-line claim, through which it is aggressively asserting ‘indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters’ and ‘sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the relevant waters as well as the seabed and subsoil’ enclosed by the dashes, is the main driver of the SCS dispute.”
That is totally false. As even the Department of State of the US, China’s arch enemy which has been painting it as a bully, in its official publication Limits in the Seas: China which examined in detail what this line was, emphasized: “China has not clarified through legislation, proclamation, or other official statements the legal basis or nature of its claim associated with the dashed-line map. Accordingly, this study examines several possible interpretations of the dashed-line claim.”
Carpio and the Philippine suit “interpreted” it as the nine-dash line that is the basis of China’s claim of sovereignty over the Spratly, Paracel and Macclesfield Bank and asked the panel to rule on such interpretation. Of course, the panel said it had no basis in Unclos provisions — China didn’t even explain what it is. The arbitral panel however categorically emphasized nothing in its award “meant a finding of sovereignty, nor should anything in it be understood to imply a view with respect to questions of land sovereignty.” As even the US defense department in its 2017 annual report to Congress tersely put its analysis of the award: “The tribunal did not rule on sovereignty claims.”
A rough analogy to understand the nine-dash line would be if the caretaker of your farm puts up a makeshift fence around what he believed was your property to ward off dogs and other wild animals. But that fence isn’t the basis of your ownership: it is the land titles you have issued by the government. The Aquino regime in effect filed a case for a panel to rule that the fence has no basis, spending P1 billion in attorney’s fees and other costs for the same propaganda tool.
In the case of China’s claims in the SCS, these “titles,” the Chinese argue, are in the numerous ancient maps showing the SCS as part of China, the international community’s recognition of its sovereignty before World War 2 as its Premier Zhou Enlai explained and such government declarations, the earliest being the post-war era China’s 1958 declaration of its territorial sea. This declaration states its definition of 12-mile territorial sea applies not just to its mainland but also “to all its territories including Taiwan, Paracel and Spratly.”
I say Carpio is a liar and wasn’t merely misinformed since he knows the nine-dash line is not the basis for China’s sovereignty claims. In his Philippine Daily Inquirer column on October 1, 2020, he lists the other basis for China’s claim of sovereignty over the SCS islands. He then proceeds to argue these claims are without basis. But who is he to judge whether these claims are valid or not?
There are two clear proofs China’s nine-dash line isn’t its basis for claiming the SCS islands. Astonishingly, Carpio himself points to one of these in his e-book, which makes me wonder whether he is deranged to do so: “The nine-dashed line also cuts through Malampaya, the Philippines’ largest operating gas field that supplies 40 percent of the energy requirement of Luzon.”
He is again lying here though. Malampaya’s drilling platform is within the nine-dash line. If Carpio is right Chinese claims everything within the nine-dash line is theirs, why did they allow us to extract such amounts of gas in the Malampaya wells? In fact, three other operating gas wells are within the nine-dash line: Indonesia’s Natuna Gas Fields, Vietnam’s Lan Tay and Malaysia’s Luconia gas fields.
Second proof that shows Carpio’s claim the nine-dash line represents China’s territorial boundaries is the fact that in 1996, together with those for its mainland, China declared the baselines for its Paracel archipelago. These baselines consist of the series of straight lines linking points on the outer islands. From these baselines are measured the 12-nautical mile territorial sea and the 200 nautical mile EEZ. If the nine-dash line were China’s boundaries, as Carpio has been claiming, then such boundaries for the Parcels aren’t just not needed but wrong.
While China hasn’t drawn the baselines for the Spratlys, a few scholars think in reaction to the confusion over Chinese claims spread by the Aquino regime through the arbitral award, it might soon declare the baselines for the Spratlys, which will make the territorial disputes in the SCS more vivid, as it were.
Another of Carpio’s shameless lies, which he said again the other day when he claimed President Duterte was in “deep sleep” over our disputes with China, is that the “Philippines is the sole owner of the resources within its 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.”
This is such a huge fabrication that unfortunately, little minds have believed without question.
Yes, the EEZ gives the state to which it is awarded the exclusive rights to exploit its natural resources. But EEZs often overlap not just with the EEZs of other countries but with the territorial seas and land territory of other countries. That is in fact the raison d’etre for Unclos, which is to provide the guidelines for settling or demarcating such overlaps, which the signatories to the treaty have agreed upon.
For instance, our EEZ overlaps with that of Indonesia in the south, so we negotiated with said country for 20 years and an agreement was signed in 2014, although not yet in effect as this hasn’t been ratified by the Senate. We haven’t even negotiated with Malaysia and Brunei on our overlapping EEZs, so we can’t say as Carpio does we are the sole owner of the resources in that overlapping area.
The crux of the territorial disputes in the SCS is both China and Vietnam claim as their sovereign territory the part of area encompassed by our EEZ emanating from Palawan. China calls this the Nansha Qundao while Vietnam calls it Truong Sa.
If not for Carpio’s lies, it is really not difficult to understand what our dispute in the SCS is all about, which is as follows: Yes, our EEZ encompasses about three-fourths of the Spratlys which we call the Kalayaan Island Group. But China and Vietnam claim all of the Spratlys as part of their sovereign territory and not because of EEZs emanating from their mainland.
As sovereign territories, they also have their own territorial seas and EEZs. Under Unclos, of course, land territory (as archipelagos) and their territorial seas constitute a superior claim than EEZs. To illustrate, our EEZ encompasses a big part of Sabah and its territorial sea; obviously though we cannot claim we are the sole owner of the resources there.
The northern part of our EEZ even encompasses two-thirds of Taiwan, but we can’t obviously claim we are the sole owner of the resources of that area, even if it is not recognized by the UN as a sovereign state.
Remember another big liar, Rappler’s Maria Ressa with her claims Duterte killed 27,000 Filipinos in his anti-drug war and she’s being journalistically killed with a “thousand cuts”? She and her lies are all but forgotten. My bet is that it will also be Carpio’s fate by next year.
I’ll explain in this series why Carpio has been so bold as to make such gargantuan lies, which can be easily exposed as such through a rational presentation of the facts.