MANILA, Philippines — Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said said that the Philippines can raise the issue of Chinese vessels at the Julian Felipe Reef before UNCLOS and rally international support against China.
Carpio reiterated that bringing the matter “the legal way” to an international tribunal governed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and can be our next step after a diplomatic protest filed by the Philippines.
“We should not stop at a diplomatic protest. If we don’t want to send a Coast Guard or a Navy ship, at the very least we should file a case before an UNCLOS tribunal—that China is taking away or seizing our exclusive economic zone. This is the way they did it in Mischief Reef,” he said.
“You can just see that this is just China playing the same playbook that it used on Mischief Reef,” he added
Doing so would “rally international opinion, world opinion against China because we are following rule of law,” said Carpio, who was one of the lawyers who fought for Manila when it brought up a case against Beijing before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague..
“We are exercising our right under international law and an exercise of right under international law can never be considered an act of war,” he said.
The Philippine Coast Guard has reported about 220 vessels, suspected to be manned by Chinese personnel, seen moored at the reef on March 7 this year.