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Carpio counters Duterte: China given opportunity to participate in West Philippine Sea case

Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio on Wednesday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statement that the arbitral ruling on the West Philippine Sea does not bind China because Beijing did not participate in the proceedings.

Carpio, who was an observer in the arbitration case, said China was given every opportunity to present its arguments, but opted not to appear before the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

China, however, submitted its position paper, Carpio said.

According to the PCA, China had consistently rejected the Philippines’ recourse to arbitration and adhered to a position of neither accepting nor participating in the case, which ran from January 2013 until July 2016.

“It has articulated this position in public statements and in many diplomatic Notes Verbales, both to the Philippines and to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which serves as the Registry in this arbitration,” the Court said in its ruling dated July 12, 2016.

“China’s Foreign Ministry has also highlighted in its statements, press briefings, and interviews that it considers non-participation in the arbitration to be its lawful right under the (United Nations) Convention (on the Law of the Sea).”

Carpio said the UNCLOS provides that the “absence of a party or failure of a party to defend its case shall not constitute a bar to the proceedings.”

“President Duterte has remained faithful to the Chinese propaganda line that the arbitral award is a mere scrap of paper because China never participated in the arbitration. China and President Duterte are, of course, grossly mistaken,” Carpio said in an online press conference of opposition coalition 1Sambayan.

In his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, Duterte said the Philippines asserted the arbitral award “clearly and in no uncertain terms” bilaterally and before organizations such as the United Nations.

Moments later, Duterte claimed “there was really no arbitration at all because it was only the Philippine side [that] was heard.”

“What will I do with a document that [does] not bind China because they were never a part of that arbitration?” he asked.

Duterte drew criticism last May for saying that the arbitral award that invalidated China’s massive claims in the South China Sea, a portion of which Manila refers to as the West Philippine Sea, is a scrap of paper meant to be thrown in the wastebasket.—AOL, GMA News