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Carpio warns of China zone over Scarborough

A MAGISTRATE on Sunday warned the government on China’s reported plan to install a radar station in the disputed Scarborough Shoal.

Senior Justice Antonio Carpio said the installation of an environmental monitoring station in the shoal would pave the way for the setting up of Beijing’s air defense zone in the South China Sea.

“A radar station on Scarborough Shoal will immediately complete China’s radar coverage of the entire South China Sea,”Carpio said in a statement.

“China can then impose an ADIZ or air defense identification zone in the South China Sea.”

Carpio made his statement even as the fishermen’s group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas on Sunday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to show extra vigilance because China’s building activities in the South China Sea might deprive Filipino fishermen of their ability to fish in the area including Scarborough Shoal.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio

Scarborough Shoal is part of the country’s exclusive economic zone that China has been claiming.

Duterte on Sunday said he could not do anything to stop the China’s building activities in the West Philippine Sea including in the Panatag Shoal.

“We cannot stop China from doing its thing. The Americans could not even stop them,” Duterte said before his departure for Myanmar and Thailand.

Carpio said the Panatag Shoal was part of Philippine territory and that it had sovereignty over it.

He made the alarm after noting that China had just completed building its radar stations in Subi Reef, Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross Reef that are composed of concrete hexagonal structures with retractable roofs to house missile batteries.

“China will use its HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles to enforce the ADIZ. These missiles are now installed on Woody Island in the Paracels,” Carpio said.

HQ-9 is China’s medium-to long-range  active radar homing surface-to-air missile system similar to the Russian S-300 and American Patriot systems.

“The Chinese will of course also use these same military installations to enforce the 9-dash lines as China’s national boundaries in the South China Sea. That means China will grab 80 percent of Philippine exclusive economic zone and 100 percent of Philippine extended continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea,” Carpio said.

Carpio recalled how China built in 1987 a radar weather station on Fiery Cross Reef (an outcrop in the Spratlys just a meter above water) ostensibly to help Unesco’s global oceanic survey. But about two years ago it turned the weather station into a 270-hectare military air-naval base.

Carpio said this move by China should prompt a stronger response from the government.

“These developments call for a national debate and consensus on how the nation should proceed with its bilateral relations with China,” he said.

Carpio was part of the legal team that presented the country’s case against China’s reclamation in the West Philippine Sea before the UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2015. He was also among those consulted by President Duterte on the territorial dispute with China.  

Topics: Antonio Carpio , China , Scarborough Shoal , South China Sea , Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas , President Rodrigo Duterte , ADIZ
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