As we know, China is aggressively claimingÂ territories which are so close to the Philippines.
China has continues to undertake actions in bolstering its claim by manufacturing islands in the disputed areas.
Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, has madeÂ what I think is one of the most comprehensive and informative presentation of theÂ issue underlying this dispute between China and the Philippines, which is easily comparable to the Biblical epic battle between David and Goliath.
The incoming Duterte administration already has its hands full in ensuring that the territories that belong to our country are protected and preserved.
What is at stake?
According to Justice Carpio, what is at stake in the West Philippine Sea dispute are:
First, 80% of the Philippinesâ€™ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), comprising 381,000 square kilometers of maritime space, and Second, Â 100% of the Philippinesâ€™ extended continental shelf (ECS), estimated at over 150,000 square kilometers of maritime space.
In aggregate, what is at issue is a huge maritime area of over 531,000 square kilometers, larger than the total land area of the Philippines of 300,000 square
Either the Philippines keeps this huge maritime space, or loses it to China, Justice Carpio says.
Over 531,000 square kilometers of maritime space, together with all the fisheries, oil, gas and mineral resources found within this vast area, is what China wants to grab from the Philippines.
This Chinese aggression is the gravest external threat to the Philippines since World War II, says Justice Carpio.
The root cause
The root cause of the South China Sea dispute is Chinaâ€™s 9-dashed lines claim,
which gobbles up large areas of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Extended Continental Shelf (ECSs) of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.
Extent of the 9-dashedÂ lines
Chinaâ€™s 9-dashed lines claim encloses 85.7% of the entire South China Sea.
This is equivalent to 3 million square kilometers out of the 3.5 million square kilometers surface area of the South China Sea.
China did not explain the legal basis for the dashes.
The dashes had no fixed coordinates.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia protested Chinaâ€™s claim
under this 9-dashed lines map.
The Philippines has vigorously objected to Chinaâ€™s claims and has brought the matter to international arbitration.
According to Justice Carpio, the Philippines today is engaged in a historic battle to defend over 531,000 square kilometers of its maritime space (EEZ and ECS) in
the West Philippine Sea, an area larger than the total land area of the Philippines of 300,000 square kilometers.
This huge maritime space is part of Philippine national territory since the Constitution defines the â€œnational territoryâ€ to include â€œthe seabed, the subsoil, xxx and other submarine areasâ€ over which the Philippines has â€œsovereignty or jurisdiction.â€
Under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Philippines has â€œjurisdiction xxx with regard to the establishment and use of artificial islands,
installations and structuresâ€ within this huge maritime space.
Justice Carpio raises the question: â€œCan the Philippines prevent China from gobbling up this huge
Justice Carpio challenges: Â â€œAll citizens of the Philippines â€“ both government personnel and private individuals â€“ have a solemn duty to prevent the loss of this huge maritime space.â€
â€œIt is a duty we owe to ourselves, and to future generations of Filipinos,â€ he concluded.
A big headache, it is. Â (By Atty. Jay I. Dejaresco)