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Military mandated to defend Panatag

Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio said yesterday that the Armed Forces headed by President Duterte as commander-in-chief are constitutionally mandated to defend Scarborough or Panatag Shoal as part of Philippine territory.

In a statement, Carpio reminded the President “to avoid any act, statement, or declaration that expressly or impliedly waives Philippine sovereignty to any Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.”

His statement was issued after the President was quoted as saying that he cannot stop China from implementing its plan to build structures on the disputed Panatag Shoal for now.

The SC magistrate was part of the Philippine delegation that argued before the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2015 and has been tapped by Duterte as consultant in the territorial issues with China.

“Since the Philippines is no match to China militarily,” Carpio said, the “President can fulfill his constitutional duty “by doing any, some or all” of the following:

– “File a strong formal protest against the Chinese building activity. This is the least the President should do.

This is what the Vietnamese did recently when China sent cruise tours to the disputed Paracels. (Rey G. Panaligan)