MANILA — Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is urging the government to ask the United Nations International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos) to stop China from building artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea.
This, according to Carpio is to prevent the further destruction of the marine environment in the territories.
“China has destroyed seven reefs in less than two months. Seventy-percent of fish in the Philippines are spawned here and are carried by the tides to Palawan and even Vietnam. So this is our food source. And China doesn’t care,” Carpio said.
He made the statement during a forum organized by the Foreign Service Institute in Pasig City.
He was referring to the ongoing reclamation activities of China at Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Calderon (Cuarteron), Burgos (Gaven), Mabini (Johnson South), Panganiban (Mischief), Zamora (Subi) and McKennan (Hughes) reefs.
“China began reclamation without telling anybody about it. China has the duty to tell us so we can protect the marine environment,” he said.
Article 123 mandates states bordering an enclosed or semienclosed sea to “cooperate with each other in the exercise of their rights and in the performance of their duties” under Unclos.
To this end, Article 123 stated, “they shall endeavor, directly or through an appropriate regional organization: (a) to coordinate the management, conservation, exploration and exploitation of the living resources of the sea; (b) to coordinate the implementation of their rights and duties with respect to the protection and preservation of the marine environment; (c) to coordinate their scientific research policies and undertake where appropriate joint programs of scientific research in the area; and (d) to invite, as appropriate, other interested States or international organizations to cooperate with them in furtherance of the provisions of this article.”
“The Philippines can ask the tribunal to issue a provisional measure directing China to stop its reclamation to prevent serious harm to the marine environment,” Carpio said.
The associate justice was referring to Article 192 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), which provides that “states have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment.”
“Even if China ignores it, the world will know that China is defying an international order,” Carpio added.