Commentary South China Sea: Waters of Contention

Justice Carpio wants to speak to the Chinese people through his eBook

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s hope springs eternal.

At the launch of his eBook, “The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea,” Carpio said the reason why it will soon have a Mandarin version is because, he wants to reach out to the Chinese people to convince them that the nine-dashed line that puts 80 percent of the vast South China Sea under China’s jurisdiction has no legal or historical basis.

“I believe that, like all other peoples of the world, the Chinese people are inherently good, but their government has drilled into their minds that they owned the South Chinese Sea since 2,000 years ago. This is, of course, utterly false and the world will never accept this. Once the Chinese people realize the falsity of the nine-dashed line, they themselves will be too ashamed to press the nine-dashed line claim before the world. That will be the time when the Chinese government can comply with the ruling of the arbitral tribunal,” Carpio said.

Why an eBook and not a physical book?

Carpio expects the book, in its printed form, to be banned in China.

“The only way this book can reach the Chinese people is in electronic format through the Internet, and through multiple download sources. So, this eBook is downloadable for free at the website of the Institute for Maritime and Ocean Affairs, the website of the murillovelardemap, other download sites for free books, as well as the websites of several educational institutions in the Philippines, “ he said.

The primary audience for the 264-page eBook, a collation of over 140 of his lectures and speeches of on the South China Sea dispute which he delivered in various fora in the Philippines and abroad, is the Filipino people.

Carpio said,” This eBook is intended to inform the Filipino people about the vast maritime areas and rich natural resources that they own in the West Philippine Sea under international law. “

“Once the Filipino people realize that these maritime areas and resources belong to them and to future generations of Filipinos, as affirmed with finality by an UNCLOS arbitral tribunal, then the Filipino people will never allow any government administration, any government agency, or any government official to give away or compromise these maritime areas or resources in favor of a foreign state in violation of the Constitution,” he said.

There was no guessing who was the government official who would give away or compromise Philippine maritime areas or resources in favor of a foreign state. The audience composed of members of the legislature, the executive department the military, retired military officials, retired members of the Supreme Court, from the academe and media, knew who fit the description.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio. Photo by Daniel Abunales.

Carpio said Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesia, Japanese and Spanish versions of this eBook will also be released later to “inform other coastal states of the world that it is in their national interest to help the Philippines protect Philippine maritime entitlements. For if China can grab for itself the maritime entitlements of the Philippines in violation of international law, then other coastal states may also lose their maritime entitlements to their more powerful neighboring states. This would end the rule of law in the oceans and seas of our planet.”

Carpio made special mention of IT entrepreneur Mel Velasco who acquired the 1734 Murillo Velarde map for P12 million in a Sotheby’s auction in London on Nov. 4, 2014.

The map, which showed Panatag Shoal or Scarborough shoal as part of the Philippines, shared the spotlight in last Thursday’s eBook launch.

Seeing the map,which he hand carried from London last April 28 being viewed by his fellow Filipinos, Velarde said, “I have jubilation in my heart, and triumph in my mind.”

He said” the signing of the deed of donation with the Solicitor GeneralJose Calida last April 21, 2017, and the subsequent collection of the map from Sotheby’s London, handed to me personally and to the Assistant Solicitor General Henry Angeles last April 28, 2017, marked the culmination of a journey that started on Nov 4, 2014. On that day of the auction I had a mission: to participate in the auction of this map by Sotheby’s London, to win the auction and bring that map back to the Philippines. “

Did you know that the Murillo-Velarde map had lain for many,many years at Alnwick Castle, Castle, which has been featured as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first two Harry Potter films?

History accounts say the Murillo Velarde map was taken out of the Philippines as part of the loot by British forces who invaded the country in 1762.

IT Enterpreneur Mel Velarde shows Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III the 1734 Murillo Velarde map he acquired in a London auction.

Historian Renato Perdon said Brigadier General William Draper, commander of British land forces, “brought to London some Spanish flags and eight copper plates which printed the celebrated Murillo Velarde Map of 1743. He donated the Spanish flags to his alma mater, Cambridge University. The copper-plates were used for some time to print copies of the Murillo Velarde Map which were sold to public libraries and cartographic collectors. One such copy was purchased by the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.”

A copy of the map was acquired by Duke of Northumberland, an avid collector. One of the Duke’s properties is the vast Alnwick Castle.

The map was among 80 heirlooms that the current Duke of Northumberland, Ralph George Algernon Percy, decided to auction off after a devastating flood hit Northumberland County in April 2012.

The Filipino people is fortunate that there was one patriot in the person of Velarde who did not hesitate to spend P12 million to re-acquire the antique map, which was one of the documents submitted to the Arbitral Court in the case files by the Philippines against China to dispute the latter’s nine-dashed line.

Velarde is donating the map to the Philippine government as his “gift to the Filipino people.”It will be exhibited at the National Museum. There will also be scheduled exhibition in capital cities nationwide.

Velarde said the plan is to formally turn over the map to President Duterte during the Independence Day celebration next month. Replicas of the map will be donated to several government institutions and public schools.