Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio believed that China will try to reclaim Scarborough Shoal before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term in 2022.
“We all know they have a plan and they will do that before the end of the term of President Duterte, and because that is the time they will also sign the Code of Conduct,” Antonio Carpio said Wednesday during the seminar for journalists on reporting on maritime issues.
The Code of Conduct, according to Carpio, is designed to “manage the dispute” but this will not settle its merits.
“After they finish the reclamation, their island-building in the Scarborough Shoal, they will say, ‘let’s sign the Code of Conduct, nobody builds anything anymore,’ and that will legitimize what they have created, their artificial islands,” he added.
Carpio also re-mentioned that the memorandum of understanding (MOU) and the terms of reference (TOR) governing the joint exploration deal by Manila and Beijing in the West Philippine Sea may lead to the settlement on the maritime dispute.
“So it will be a private contract between the two and CNOOC will be coming in under the service contract, so in effect, CNOOC impliedly recognizes we have sovereign rights,” he added.
Although China ignored and rejected the 2016 arbitral tribunal award that favored the Philippines, the deal, according to Carpio, may accompany in what he said is the third phase of the dispute.
“They made this agreement with us to offer it to the rest of Southeast Asia, and if they do that, we have found the solution for peace and stability as far as maritime disputes are concerned,” Carpio concluded.
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