Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio on Wednesday criticized President Rodrigo Duterte over his foreign policy, which he said had no "discernible direction, coherence, or vision."
A year after the Philippines' legal victory against China over the South China Sea issue, Carpio said that the tribunal ruling became "strangely orphan" after the president announced that he was setting aside the ruling in favor of better economic relations with China.
"I was aghast at the President's use of the phrase 'setting aside.' In law, to set aside ruling means to nullify, void, or abandon the ruling. I had to sound for the alarm for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to immediately clarify the President's statement," Carpio said during a forum in Makati City.
The DFA later issued a clarification, which prevented the Philippines from being legally bound under the well-recognized doctrine in international law on unilateral declaration by heads of state.
"We escaped a self-inflicted colossal disaster by the skin of our teeth," Carpio said.
Carpio cited the incident to explain the Philippine foreign policy on the South China Sea issue after the ruling.
"This incident graphically explains Philippine foreign policy on the South China sea dispute after the arbitral ruling. A policy without discernible direction coherence of vision. A policy that relies more on improvisation than on long-term strategy," he said.
He added that the blame does not fall on the DFA, because it is Duterte who is the chief architect of the country's foreign policy.
"I do not at all blame the DFA for this, because the chief architect of our foreign policy is not the DFA but our President," he said. —JST, GMA News