AMID this week’s naval parade in Qingdao touted to be the largest held by China to showcase its naval prowess, Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) senatorial candidate and former Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile said that the law that governs the West Philippine Sea is the rule of force.
Enrile, who is vying for a fifth term in the Senate, said that among nations what counts is the rule of force and not the rule of law.
“Because among nations, it is what they call a Hobbesian society. It is the rule of force rather than the rule of law [that matters],” Enrile explained, referring to a situation of unrestrained competition expounded by political philosopher Thomas Hobbes.
In the dispute, Enrile says it will all come down to “ilan ba ang mga barko mo, ilan ba ang mga fighter jets mo, ilan ba ang sundalo mo (how many ships you have, how many fighter jets you have, how many soldiers you have)”.
In an interview, Enrile pointed out the difference between the Philippine’s territorial waters and our core territory.
He said what was recognized by the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Seas was the Philippines’ territorial waters which is 200 miles from the shoreline. He said that within that 200-mile territorial water is our exclusive economic zone.
“Lahat ng isda diyan, lahat ng minerals diyan sa ilalim ng tubig na ‘yan, we have the economic right not the political right,” Enrile said.
He said that what the country won in the UN Arbitral Tribunal was the economic right to exploit the zone exclusively but not the sovereignty over the disputed waters.
“It’s not part of the territory of the Philippines,” he said.
“Totoo ‘yan na meron tayong right diyan, pero ang kuwestiyon, can we enforce it?” the former Senate president and author of the Philippines baseline law said.
“If not, you have to bow to the powerful,” he stressed.