NOT a few people have been wondering why Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has suddenly emerged just in the past few years as the de facto spokesman — and even ideologue — of the vociferous anti-China group over our territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.
Indeed, Carpio had never before demonstrated any interest in geopolitics. His field was corporate law, having been the founder of what had been the most powerful and lucrative law firm for big businesses during the Fidel Ramos administration, and during part of Gloria Arroyo’s term.
Yet now he has shown so much passion against China’s claims in the South China Sea that he warns that one day, Chinese warships will be patrolling the region. Why, he even melodramatically says — and stretches his imagination so much — that fighting China for our claims in the area “is the 21st century equivalent of the battles that our forebears waged against Western and Eastern colonizers from the 16th to the 20th century.”
Carpio has never written a book, nor even a single article in legal journals. Yet in 2016 he wrote a 247-page e-book against the Chinese claims, profusely illustrated and with over 100 old maps. I can’t remember Carpio being quoted by the press or giving public speeches before. Since 2015 though, he has given 140 lectures, even to Filipinos in 15 countries, battering China’s claims in the South China Sea and commenting on the latest news on the territorial dispute.
About a year ago, a colleague of Carpio — who has been in the inner circles of past administrations — told me that “it was a fact” for him that it was retired general Jose Almonte, the national security adviser of Fidel Ramos, that was behind the senior associate justice’s “crusade” against Chinese claims in the West Philippine Sea. “He can’t say no to Joal,” the source said. He then related to me the details of why, which I cannot report, though, as it would be libelous and, unless I get documentary proof, hearsay.
I didn’t make this the topic of a column as this would be at the edge of an ad hominem argument, so I instead presented logical and information-based reasons to show that Carpio’s disputations versus China’s territorial claims were erroneous. (See for example my columns “Intellectual dishonesty the likes of Justice Carpio’s will keep us as US proxy in Asia,” May 25, 2018 and “Carpio continues to mislead us on South China Sea issue,” May 30, 2018. )
However. I have decided that it is an important allegation that Carpio could be simply Almonte’s mouthpiece. This should warn us to take Carpio’s claims on the South China Sea issue not just with a grain of salt but with extreme skepticism since Almonte’s own motives in this issue are suspect. Continue reading