Acting Supreme Court Chief Justice Carpio, one of the leading figures in the Philippines’ arbitration victory against China, said Thursday that the ruling may be enforced without China’s participation.
“First, the Philippines and Vietnam can enter into a sea boundary agreement of their overlapping extended continental shelves beyond Spratlys. The premise of this agreement is that there is no geologic feature in the Spratlys that generate an exclusive economic zone as ruled by the Arbitral Tribunal in the Award, and thus there are no overlapping exclusive economic zones between the Philippines and Vietnam, only overlapping extended continental shelves. The sea boundary will be the median line and there can be no dispute on this. Such an agreement adopts a ruling in the Award by state practice, even if China is not a party to the agreement.
Second, a similar sea boundary agreement can be entered into between the Philippines and Malaysia to delineate their adjoining exclusive economic zones between Borneo and Palawan. The premise of this agreement is again that none of the islands claimed by either country in the Spratlys generates an exclusive economic zone as ruled by the Arbitral Tribunal. Consequently, there are no EEZs from these islands that will overlap with the EEZ of Borneo or Palawan. Again, such an agreement adopts a ruling in the Award by state practice, even if China is not a party to the agreement.
Third, the Philippines can file with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf an extended continental shelf claim off the coast of Luzon facing the South China Sea. This is a unilateral act of the Philippines, just like the filing by the Philippines of its extended continental shelf claim in Benham Rise in the Philippine Sea. The Philippines does not need the consent or participation of China in filing this claim. The premise of this claim is that the Philippines has a full 200 NM EEZ off the coast of Luzon, as ruled in the Award of the Arbitral Tribunal. The UN Commission will have to respect the Award of the Arbitral Tribunal because the Arbitral Tribunal, just like the UN Commission, is a creation under the authority of UNCLOS. The decision of the UN Commission will apply the ruling in the Award that the Philippines has a full 200 NM EEZ off the coast of Luzon.”
Carpio also urged the Philippine government to ask the United States and the Asean to make Scarborough Shoal “an official red line” in the disputed sea.
President Rodrigo Duterte has set aside the favorable ruling in exchange of economic aid and investments from China, while the Asian giant refused to acknowledge the court decision.