Carpio corrects Cayetano: Malaysia, Vietnam don't have claims in PH EEZ

MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio corrected House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday, August 20, by asserting that Vietnam and Malaysia do not have any claims in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.

"China claims 80% of Philippine EEZ in the West Philippine Sea. Vietnam and Malaysia do not claim any part of Philippine EEZ in the West Philippine Sea. In fact, China is the only country that claims Philippine EEZ in the West Philippine Sea," Carpio said.

Carpio made these remarks after Cayetano said on Monday, August 19, that Malaysia and Vietnam occupy more islands than China in the West Philippine Sea.

"Maraming hindi may alam, mas marami po na-occupy ang Malaysia at Vietnam sa West Philippine Sea kaysa sa China. Mas malaki lang sa China na meron na ring military installations," Cayetano said in an interview with DZMM.

(Many people don't know that Malaysia and Vietnam occupy more [islands] in the West Philippine Sea than China. China is just occupying larger islands and they already have military installations.)

According to Carpio, China occupies 8 geologic features in the West Philippine Sea – and 9 if Sandy Cay near Pag-asa Island is included. Meanwhile, Malaysia occupies 5 features and Vietnam, 21. (READ: Malaysia, Vietnam show PH can stand up to China)

But unlike China, Vietnam and Malaysia do not claim any part of the waters within Philippine EEZ.

Philippine EEZ includes waters in the Spratly Islands area, except for territorial seas generated by high-tide geologic features. The historic 2016 Hague ruling also did not touch upon who owns the high-tide features and their territorial seas. (READ: High tide or low tide? The question that won us the West Philippine Sea case)

In the same interview, Cayetano had said he disagreed with Carpio and former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario's recommendation to assert the Philippines' maritime rights. Both Carpio and Del Rosario are staunch defenders of the West Philippine Sea and were among key persons behind the 2016 Hague ruling which invalidated China's claims in the West Philippine Sea.

During his stint as foreign secretary, Cayetano was criticized for cozying up to China as Manila and Beijing remain embroiled in a dispute over the West Philippine Sea. (READ: In a rare move, China congratulates House Speaker Cayetano)

China likewise hailed Cayetano for a "full turnaround" of bilateral relations between China and the Philippines which helped bring the two countries "back in the right path." – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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