Senior Associate Justice: Raise China threat to United Nations

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SC Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio says world opinion may pressure China to comply with the arbitral tribunal's ruling in favor of the Philippines in the South China Sea maritime dispute.

Highlights

  • Carpio: PH needs to win world opinion
  • Carpio maintains previous advice to go to arbitral tribunal
  • Carpio advises DFA to file diplomatic protests

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) — A Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice is urging the government to raise China's alleged threat of war against the Philippines to the United Nations General Assembly, saying condemnation from other countries may pressure the Asian superpower to comply with the 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling that favored the Philippines in the maritime dispute.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source in an episode set to air on Monday, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said China's warning of war against the Philippines - should the latter drill oil in the South China Sea - goes against the 1945 UN charter, and may be grounds for a UN resolution against China.

"We can go to the UN General Assembly, sponsor a resolution condemning this threat of China, and also demanding that China comply with the arbitral ruling," Carpio said, referring to a Permanent Court of Arbitration's 2016 ruling, which said China's "nine-dash line" maritime claim encroached into the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

"We cannot go the Security Council, because China has a veto power there. But in the General Assembly, China has no veto," he added.

The United Nations General Assembly is one of the United Nations' six principal organs and is the U.N.'s chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ.

Unlike the UN Security Council which has only 15 members and grants permanent members veto powers, the General Assembly counts all 193 states in the U.N. as a member, with each country getting one vote.

Carpio's statement comes after President Rodrigo Duterte said China had cautioned the Philippines from drilling oil at the disputed Reed Bank, or in any area within the South China Sea.

"He told me, 'We do not want to quarrel with you. We would want to maintain the present warm relationship. But if you force the issue, we will go to war'," Duterte said, quoting Xi in one of their recent exchanges.

READ: Duterte: Xi told me China to go to war if PH drills oil in SCS

Carpio, who has been vocal about the South China Sea dispute, said China's statement is "outlawed under the 1945 United Nations Charter," which prohibits the threat or use of force in international relations.

"Superpowers are not supposed to do that. That's why the Chinese Foreign Ministry refuses to confirm that statement, because if they confirm that, then we would have a ground to complain before the UN," he said.

Carpio said China, the world's largest export economy since 2009, is heavily dependent on its trading partners and may comply with the arbitral tribunal ruling if it's pressured by other countries.

READ: PH wins maritime arbitration case vs. China

"China needs the world to survive. It has to import and to export to survive, and it cannot just disregard world opinion," Carpio said.

"It has its Belt and Road initiative. There are many countries involved, and if these countries feel that China will use that initiative to expand its territory, they will not cooperate with China. So China has to present to the world an image that it does not grab the territories of other countries," he added.

'Approach arbitral tribunal'

Carpio also previously suggested officials take the threat to the arbitral tribunal, which he again reiterated on Friday.

Related: Bring China's threat to arbitral tribunal - Carpio

"We can ask the tribunal to issue an order directing China to stop... using force against the Philippines' seismic vessels in Reed Bank," said Carpio. "We can do that, because we have a right to be there," he said.

Carpio added the Philippines can sue China for damages as it prevents the Philippines from drilling in the South China Sea.

"We can ask for damages for every day of delay that we cannot drill... and the tribunal will issue an award," said Carpio.

The Philippines had previously won a case against China at the tribunal, although China has refused to recognize the decision.

Carpio said that the decision gave the Philippines an edge should it choose to take the matter at the UN General Assembly.

'File diplomatic protests'

The Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice also encouraged the Philippines to continue filing diplomatic protests against China, saying failure to do so would weaken the Philippines' position in the dispute.

"If we do not file a protest… that is an implied admission that we are consenting. I think we have to file a protest. We don't have to announce it," he said.

DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who was privy to the conversation between Duterte and Xi, had previously said there was no need to issue a note verbale and report the incident to the United Nations, saying the talk between two presidents had no language or tone of disrespect between the two.

READ: Cayetano: China did not bully PH with threat

Carpio, however, said such documents were important as a record of protests for future proceedings. 

Citing Malaysia, he said, it was possible to maintain good relations with China while contesting its actions.

"Malaysia is very cooperative with China, very friendly with China, but every time there is a Chinese incursion, they file a diplomatic protest. They don't announce it. We don't have to announce it, because later on when you have a case before the arbitral tribunal, you have to use this to say that you never acquiesced, you never consented," he said.