AT THIS stage when the Philippine government, nor the most powerful nation on Earth—the USA, and not even the United Nations, whose objective, among others, is maintaining international peace and security, has not been able to deter the encroachment, buildup of artificial islands and the eventual militarization in the South China Seas (SCS), of which the West Philippine Sea (WPS) is a part, who are we to be talking about sovereignty over an area of ocean extending 200 nautical miles from our coast called the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)?

That the buildup of artificial islands within our supposed territorial waters was done with impunity following China’s nine-dash demarcation of its historic claim to the SCS and disregarding even the Hague tribunal’s findings that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its EEZ, only shows that what China claims as its “territorial maritime sovereignty and marine rights” shall always be advocated and sustained by China’s leadership.

Now, that being the reality of events happening in our territorial waters, there is really nothing that we can do but share whatever marine resources we think is ours with the Chinese. What is important, however, is adhering to and honoring whatever agreements/arrangements are crafted by representatives of both nations with regard to certain activities and/or projects in the disputed area.

Perhaps we feel disadvantaged, as we already are, but being unreasonable and unrealistic in challenging China’s arrogant presence and brazen actions is more detrimental not only to our bilateral relationship, but even disastrous to our existence as a nation and as a people.

There is nothing treasonous, therefore, when President Duterte openly declared that the Chinese can fish in the EEZ of the Philippines in the disputed SCS. Certainly he is not betraying the country, but rather acting judicious and considerate to another country that he considers a friend. Indeed, this is not a one-way indulgence, for China is also doing its share of providing investment, credit and loan pledges and staunchly supporting Duterte’s Build, Build, Build program.

What I find absurd, however, and adding fuel to the fire, is Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s statement, saying that allowing China to fish in the Philippines’ EEZ is a violation of the Constitution. He further added that the President, as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, has the constitutional duty to order the military to protect the nation’s marine wealth.

Carpio knows very well how militarily inadequate we are against China, and yet he is prodding Duterte to use military action in protecting the country’s fishing grounds in the WPS. If this is not wishful thinking, I don’t know what is.

If it was this easy and simple, then why did we not use military force against China’s military aggression in the WPS in the first place?

Besides, how could it be a violation of the Constitution when it is within Duterte’s discretion as President to allow anybody, including China, to fish in the country’s EEZs?