Nov 24, 2021 @ 13:00

SC nixes plea compelling President Duterte to protect WPS

The Supreme Court (SC) has denied a petition seeking to compel President Duterte defend the national territory specifically the West Philippine Sea (WPS) against Chinese incursions.

In his petition for mandamus, lawyer Romeo M. Esmero, who named President Duterte as respondent, said the “President is not prohibited from engaging in a defensive war and, in so doing, call upon the people to defend the State against China’s aggression.”

Esmero added that the Philippines should sue China with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and seek payment of damages for the taking of Kalayaan Islands.

“There is unlawful neglect or inaction by the President in the performance of his constitutional duty resulting to the detriment of paramount public interest involving the livelihood of all of our poor Filipino fishermen and their families who are living in the coastal areas of the many islands facing the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

But the SC said: ” For all his posturing, however, petitioner has failed to point to any law that specifically requires the President to go to the UN or the ICJ to sue China for its incursions into our exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Neither has he shown a clear and unmistakable constitutional or statutory provision which prescribes how the President is to respond to any threat (actual or imminent) from another State to our sovereignty or exercise of our sovereign rights.”

” Being the Head of State, he is free to use his own discretion in this matter, accountable only to his country in his political character and to his own conscience.”

“Ultimately, the decision of how best to address our disputes with China (be it militarily, diplomatically, legally) rests on the political branches of government,” the SC ruled.

The SC decision, which was promulgated June 29, 2021 but was only made public on November 22, 2021, was penned by Associate Justice Rodil V. Zalameda.

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