Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio delivered a lecture on the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea dispute and the possible post-arbitration scenarios to Philippine defense and foreign affairs officials and members of the armed forces, diplomatic corps, academe, and media at the Tejeros Hall, AFP Commissioned Officers’ Club, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, on 31 March 2016.
In his lecture, “Arbitration Ruling: Geopolitical Possibilities,” Justice Carpio condemned China’s nine-dash line as the root cause of the dispute and refuted it as having no historical basis. He reiterated that China’s activities in the South China Sea violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and that the Philippines has legal basis for going against China in court. He then outlined how the arbitral tribunal could decide on the case and gave possible strategies for the Philippines for each scenario.
Possible outcomes of the case include a best-case scenario where the tribunal declares China’s nine-dash line void, finds that Itu Aba does not generate an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) while Scarborough Shoal generates only a territorial sea, and confirms the status of low-tide elevations identified by the Philippines. A middle-ground scenario is where the tribunal declares China’s nine-dash line void, finds that Scarborough Shoal generates only a territorial sea, and defers judgment on all other issues. Finally, a worst-case scenario is where the tribunal finds that Itu Aba does not generate an EEZ while Scarborough Shoal generates only a territorial sea and defers judgment on the validity of the nine-dash line and on all other issues.
The event was the second lecture of the Heneral Antonio Luna Colloquium Series jointly organized by the Office for Strategic Studies and Strategy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (OSSSM-AFP), the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP), and the Foreign Service Institute (FSI).