Press Release

Illegal, Impractical and Irresponsible: Why Retired Justice Carpio and Former Secretary Del Rosario Are Wrong about the West Philippine Sea

Retired Senior Justice Antonio Carpio and Former Secretary Albert Del Rosario have released many fiery statements criticizing the President’s careful, calculated, calibrated policy on the West Philippine Sea. We will explain to the Filipino People why they are wrong based on the law and the facts. For the moment, we will presume that they really did every supposed accomplishment they took credit for regarding the West Philippine Sea, and are not buying fame with the hard work of other unsung thinkers and doers.

It is a fact that the Philippines has territorial and maritime claims and entitlements in the West Philippine Sea. However, it is also a fact that our claims and entitlements are disputed by other states. Therefore, international law requires that we promote our claims and entitlements, and we manage and resolve our disputes, through peaceful and legal means. All of these means[1] start and end with negotiation. Even when countries implement decisions under UNCLOS, they must negotiate[2].

That is why the President’s policy has been careful, calculated, calibrated. He has never renounced our claims and entitlements, and in fact he and his administration have repeatedly and consistently asserted them in bilateral talks with China and in multilateral fora like the United Nations. However, he knows that, as a responsible member of the world community, the Philippines must pursue its claims by legal and diplomatic means. We must lay the basis for negotiation, by building a relationship of mutual trust and confidence, and without engaging in name-calling and brinkmanship.

The outbursts of Justice Carpio and Secretary Del Rosario are not helping our country. They demand that the President adopt hardline all or nothing policies. However, history shows that countries who demand all or nothing policies often get nothing at all, or even end up provoking war. This is exactly what the President is avoiding. Because all or nothing policies are not only inconsistent with international law and international reality—they are dangerous and they will not work.

As a lawyer and a diplomat respectively, Justice Carpio and Secretary Del Rosario should know better. They do know better. Therefore, they should stop misleading and endangering our people with illegal, impractical, and irresponsible statements. They should leave international relations to the one who has the foresight, information, and constitutional mandate to make sound foreign policy decisions. They should let the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte pursue his careful, calibrated, and calculated foreign policy to its ultimate success.


[1]    Namely those enumerated in the Hague Convention on Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, 1899 and 1907, and in the Manila Declaration of 1982.

[2]    See UNCLOS, article 283.2, last clause.