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Filipinos deserve a leader who will defend country’s sovereignty —Carpio

Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio on Thursday hit back at President Rodrigo Duterte after the chief executive apparently blamed him and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario over China’s occupation of some features in the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte used his weekly address to the nation on Wednesday night to ask Carpio and del Rosario why the country "lost territory" in the West Philippine Sea during their time in government, especially after the standoff between Philippine and Chinese vessels in the Scarborough Shoal in 2012.

In a statement, Carpio said he was not part of the Executive department, which determines foreign policy, in 2012.

An SC magistrate at the time, Carpio had recommended taking China to arbitration over its massive claims in the South China Sea, including in areas Manila refers to as the West Philippine Sea.

“The Aquino administration agreed and filed the South China Sea arbitration case in January 2013,” he said.

China's claim to nearly the entire South China Sea was declared illegal in July 2016 by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, but Duterte just set aside the ruling in exchange for loans and investments, Carpio said.

Carpio also said Duterte had allowed the Chinese to fish in the country’s exclusive economic zone and that Filipinos now import galunggong from China, “the same galunggong that Chinese fishermen take in the West Philippine Sea.”

The retired justice also said China “seized” Sandy Cay yet Duterte was allegedly silent on the matter and even declared his admiration for Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Filipinos deserve, and should demand, a president who loves Filipinos first and foremost and who will uncompromisingly defend Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea,” Carpio said.

Carpio is the chairperson of the 1Sambayan coalition, which is composed of “pro-democracy” groups and personalities aiming to field a single opposition slate of national candidates—president, vice president, 12 senators—who will square off against Duterte’s bets in the May 2022 elections. — BM, GMA News