Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said, in an interview with Mario Esteban of Elcano Royal Institute, that in this modern time no country can claim an entire sea. “China can claim the islands and territories, and we can discuss that over time, but in this time and age, no state can claim an entire sea anymore. That era long passed and settled a long time ago.”
Transcript of the said interview dated May 11 in Madrid was provided by Supreme Court Public Information Office with video of the interview uploaded by Elcano Royal Institute in Youtube.
“We are now under the UNCLOS,” Justice Carpio said. “You cannot claim the entire sea. That’s all over now, that idea in the 1600s that the world has rejected, and China is reviving it today.”
When asked if how can the ruling help prevent the escalation of the situation, Carpio said “if the Tribunal will declare the nine-dash line as void, therefore, China cannot claim as sovereign territorial waters the entire South China Sea. It will have to limit its claim to the islands and the 12-nautical mile territorial sea. So that will drastically reduce the area of conflict from the entire South China Sea to the islands and that kind of conflict over small islands can be managed.”
Justice Carpio said the Philippine government is expecting a decision on jurisdictional issue to be released in August or September and another hearing will be held in November. “And after that, we wait for the decision of the tribunal. We expect the tribunal to decide on the merits with finality in the first quarter of 2016.”
The Elcano Royal Institute is a think-tank for international and strategic studies that analyses world events and trends from a Spanish, European and global perspective.
“If we have a favorable ruling, the area of the dispute will be reduced considerably and we can leave on that kind of dispute,” he said. “If the Tribunal will allow the nine-dash line to stand, then the law of the sea, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, will not apply in the South China Sea. If it can’t apply in the South China Sea, it cannot apply in other seas or oceans because other naval powers will demand the same rights as China.”