Phl Can File Extended Continental Shelf Claim – Carpio
Retired Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio repeated that there are many ways for President Duterte and his officials to enforce the 2016 arbitral ruling on the South China Sea.
Retired Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio outlined anew on Thursday, July 15, possible actions that the Philippines can take to enforce the arbitral ruling on the South China Sea, including the filing of an extended continental shelf (ECS) claim over the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
At a virtual briefing, Carpio said the country can file a 150-nautical mile ECS claim before the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
The extended continental shelf, if approved, will start where the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone ends.
According to the US State Department, the ECS is that portion of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from shore. The rules for defining the outer limits of the ECS come from of Article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“The Philippines can file this extended continental shelf claim unilaterally, just like the extended continental shelf claim that we filed in Benham Rise or Philippine Rise facing the Pacific Ocean,” he said.
“The filing of this extended continental shelf claim asserts the existence of a Philippine exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea and affirms by state practice the arbitral award,” he added.
Carpio stressed China would not be able to object because their nine-dash line claim has been invalidated by the arbitral tribunal that ruled on the case filed by the Philippines in 2013.
Aside from an extended continental shelf claim, the former magistrate also outlined other actions that the Philippines can take to enforce the arbitral ruling.
He said the country should immediately withdraw the previous statement issued by President Duterte that supposedly allowed the Chinese to fish in Philippine waters.
“President Duterte has no authority to allow Chinese fishermen to fish in our exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea. China has the largest fishing fleet in the world. Chinese fishermen are scooping the fish in the West Philippine Sea, leaving only very little fish to Filipino fishermen,” Carpio said.
“Filipino fishermen and Filipino consumers are suffering because of an unconstitutional policy of President Duterte favoring Chinese fishermen,” he said, noting that the country now has to import galunggong (round scad) that the Chinese fished out of Philippine waters.
Carpio noted the government should also retract Duterte’s previous remark that China is in possession of the WPS, saying it discourages service contractors from exploring areas with gas reserves.
“This has serious ramifications. Our Malampaya gas field will run out of gas in three to four years. The replacement should be Reed Bank, which has gas reserves more than twice the Malampaya gas field. But our service contractors cannot go to Reed Bank because President Duterte himself said that China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
“Unless we find a replacement for Malampaya, Luzon will have 12 to 14 hours of rotating brownouts every day two to three years from now,” Carpio warned.
The retired associate justice said the Philippines can also join the freedom of navigation exercises being conducted by the United States and its allies in the region.
This, he said, “represents a strongest enforcement of the arbitral award” because it demonstrates the existence of an exclusive economic zone of a coastal state.
Carpio said the Philippines can also conduct joint patrols with Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei in each other’s economic zones.
“These joint patrols are peaceful and lawful exercises of sovereign rights and are allowed under UNCLOS to protect a coastal state’s exclusive right to the living and non-living resources within its exclusive economic zone,” he added.
In addition, Carpio said the Philippines can also sue China before an United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea tribunal to demand damages for its activities within the country’s territory or sponsor a UN General Assembly resolution demanding that China comply with international law.