Updated 11:05 AM PHT Mon, March 20, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio makes it clear that any statement that the Philippines cannot stop China from building on Scarborough Shoal "actually encourages China to build on Scarborough Shoal."
Carpio issued the statement on Sunday after President Duterte said before leaving for Myanmar that the country cannot do anything to stop China from building on Scarborough or Panatag Shoal.
The senior justice said the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, which is tasked by the Constitution to defend the country's territory.
Under Republic Act 9522, Carpio said Scarborough Shoal is part of national territory.
R.A. 9522 amended certain provisions of R.A. 3046, as amended by R.A. 5446, to "define the archipelagic baselines of the Philippines, and for other purposes."
Since the Philippines is no match to China militarily, Carpio noted President Duterte can fulfill his constitutional duty by doing "any, some or all" of the following:
1. File a strong formal protest against the Chinese building activity.
"This is the least that the President should do," Carpio said.
He said this is what the Vietnamese did recently when China sent cruise tours to the disputed Paracels.
2. Send the Philippine Navy to patrol Scarborough Shoal.
Carpio explained if the Chinese attack Philippine navy vessels, the President can invoke the Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty, which covers any armed attack on Philippine navy vessels operating in the South China Sea.
3. Ask the United States to declare that Scarborough Shoal is part of Philippine territory for purposes of the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty since the shoal has been part of Philippine territory even during the American colonial period.
"The U.S. has declared the Senkakus as part of Japanese territory for purposes of the US-Japan mutual defense treaty," Carpio said.
The Senkaku islands are a source of dispute between Japan and China in the East China Sea.
4. Accept the standing U.S. offer to hold joint naval patrols in the South China Sea, which includes Scarborough Shoal.
This, Carpio explained, will demonstrate joint Philippine and US determination to prevent China from building on Scarborough Shoal.
5. Avoid any act, statement or declaration that expressly or impliedly waives Philippine sovereignty to any Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.
"This will preserve for future generations of Filipinos their national patrimony in the West Philippine Sea," Carpio added.
Carpio is an expert on the West Philippine Sea and was part of the Philippine delegation to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that argued and won the country's case against China.