FORMER Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. yesterday said that former President Fidel Ramos and Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio are among his top advisers in “navigating” the issues to be handled by his newly-created House special committee on the West Philippine Sea.
Belmonte, who chairs the panel, said the expertise of ex-President Ramos and Carpio on the heavily contested waterway is crucial especially after the arbitral tribunal under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) issued a ruling favorable to the Philippines.
“The two (ex-President Ramos and Carpio) are experts and knowledgeable of the topic. Ex-President Ramos even led a series of annual conferences on various issues held in a city in China and he has a good relationship with China,” Belmonte, a Quezon City congressman and vice chairman of the Liberal Party (LP), said on former President Ramos who is now President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s special envoy to China for talks regarding the recent international arbitral tribunal ruling.
In the case of Carpio, Belmonte said the SC justice may serve as his adviser in his private capacity being an expert in the dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
“If I talk to him (Carpio) or tap him, it will be on a private basis and not as a Supreme Court justice because he is a very knowledgeable person. In fact, he was in The Hague during the hearings there,” Belmonte said, referring to the city on the North Sea coast of the western Netherlands.
TheHague is home to the U.N.’s International Court of Justice, headquartered in the Peace Palace, and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Before the UN ruling, Carpio said the UN arbitral court needs to categorically void China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea to put an end to Beijing’s aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea.
Belmonte also named former Magdalo party-list Rep. Ashley Acedillo, ex-Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Angkla party-list Rep. Jesulito Manalo as his potential advisers being skillful, proficient and articulate lawmakers on the West Philippine Sea issue.
He also said that some retired country’s envoys to China will also help him champion Filipinos’ interest in the West Philippine Sea.