MANILA, Philippines, March 2 ------ President Rodrigo Duterte's earlier pronouncements that the Philippines might as well choose between the United States and China are wrong, retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Friday. The president earlier said that if the country cannot be self-reliant, the only choices are to be a territory of the US or a province of China. "Of course, it's a false choice because it's not true that we should be either a Chinese province or a US territory because we can have alliances," Carpio said at a forum in Makati City.
Citing the United Nations Charter, Carpio said the Philippines can enter into alliances to defend the country, particularly against China, which is occupying and invading the country's territory in the West Philippine Sea.
Under Chapter 7, Article 51 of the UN Charter:
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.
Carpio, however, lamented how Duterte had made his choice in October 2016 during his first visit to Beijing. The retired magistrate recalled how Duterte told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he "will be dependent on China for all time." "Chinese people... saw is as another instance where a head of state made himself a vassal of China," Carpio said, adding that this is the reason why Chinese nationals violate Philippine laws when they are in the country.
For the Chinese people, Filipinos are citizens of a vassal state, Carpio said. Carpio also warned that Duterte's next target would be ending the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the US. Basing his comment on Duterte's body language, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said "all treaties must go" to be consistent with the president's position. "Because if you say we have to stand on our own, not rely... this means we'll have to strengthen our own resources, we don't need other countries," Panelo earlier said. Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario also warned that Duterte's move to end the VFA signals the impending termination of other Philippines-US defense agreements such as the EDCA and the MDT.
In the same forum, Del Rosario called on the Congress and the Supreme Court to put a stop to this "tragedy." "What is unfolding before us is a national tragedy which should be resisted. As a democratic and republican country, we do not believe that one man alone can make this damaging choice for our people," Del Rosario said.