By: Engr. Edgar Mana-ay
DURING the recent visit of President Duterte to China, many citizens, including this writer, had the illusion and delusion (not hope) that that our President can finally resolve the controversial issue at the West Philippine Sea (WPS) with a supposed “true friend” but in reality a bully in China.
As per media hype by spokesman and lawyer Sal Panelo, we had the impression of a brave Duterte wagging a finger at Xi Jinping to emphasize that China is violating international rules by illegally occupying Scarborough shoals and other islands within our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Because of domestic pressure both from the military and business supporters, Pres. Duterte agreed to finally bite the bullet and confront Pres. Xi on the WPS issue. In a very meek and polite manner, Pres. Duterte pointed out to Pres. Xi that the 2015 ruling of an international arbiter in The Hague, in which China has refused to participate, is “FINAL, BINDING AND NOT SUBJECT TO APPEAL.”
But Pres. Xi Jinping told him bluntly and reiterated his government position of NOT RECOGNIZING THE ARBITRAL RULING AS WELL AS NOT TO BUDGE FROM ITS PRESENT POSITION.
The ruling invalidated (ginbale-wala) most of China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea (SCS). China is claiming historic rights, ISIS caliphate terroristic style, in asserting ownership of almost all of SCS encircled by its arbitrary and infamous nine-dash line that overlaps the EEZ lines of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
As an act of a bully, China has not only defied the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016 that favored the Philippines but also the UNCLOS – the United Nations Convention of the Seas – which defined the 200-nautical mile (nm) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEC) for each country, of which China is among the 167 nations signatories.
Beijing then proceeded to escalate tensions by militarizing the SCS. It has enlarged seven Philippine reefs by reclamation process, which destroys the surrounding shallow seas teeming with marine resources such as the giant taclobo clam and the corrals, depriving the fishes of spawning and feeding grounds. It then fortified these manmade islands with naval bases, landing strips, combat helipads, missile launch pads and signal jammers.
Most importantly, it violated Philippine sovereign rights by grabbing Scarborough Shoal in 2012 which is only 124 nautical miles from Zambales, well within the Philippine’s 200 nm EEZ and prevented Filipinos from fishing there.
China also illegally harassed Filipino vessels from exploring for oil and natural gas from Recto bank, also within the Philippine and outside of China’s EEZ. In four years, our Malampaya natural gas deposit will be exhausted and fuel imports will rise from the present P7.8 billion per day to maybe P9.5 billion per day, if we have to import all the natural gas fuel for the power plants in Luzon.
But exploration work at the Recto bank the proposed replacement for Malampaya has been on a standstill for the last 10 years because of China’s bullying.
During Duterte’s visit, the Chinese agreed on the creation of a panel that will formulate policies for a joint exploration and exploitation scheme of the energy resources at the Recto bank for the two countries. So you see how a bully operates, if China is not involved, it will harass you; but if offered a share and probably bigger, it will agree!
We Filipinos should strongly oppose any joint exploration at the WPS with China because based on its past actuations as a bully, we will be at the losing end of every transactions made with them. Without fear of being called an American stooge or lackey, I insist that we go back to the Americans as our partner on energy because they are more advance than China in offshore drilling. Besides, the Americans, for so many decades, have proven to be a true friend and protector.
While the problem with China started with the Aquino administration, it was during the Duterte era that it worsened. Remember during his first six months, Duterte made the announcement that he is veering away from the U.S. and pivoting towards China for aid, arms and social ties, ignoring more than a hundred years of close collaboration with the Americans.
I think DU30 was also emboldened by anti US or anti imperialism sentiments of the few misguided activist of society. And this was his biggest mistake of jumping from the frying pan to the fire which is the bully and communist China.
Duterte and his cronies are too much in bed with China now for it even to consider bringing the WPS intrusion issue to the United Nation is almost impossible.
By this time, we should be wary of China’s intention. For according to Jarius Bondoc the famous columnist of the Philippine Star, China is applying the “San ZhongZhanfa”, loosely “three warfares”, a strategy polished and adopted as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) doctrine.
This came from Sun Tzu’s teaching 2,500 years ago that, “supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”. It has started with psychological military occupation on usurped enlarged islands designed to show that might is right, and legal trickery as exemplified by the bogus nine-dash line, a ruse to occupy the entire South China Sea.
We should severe the umbilical cord of “friendship” with China kay dehado kita. For according to Woodrow Wilson: “You cannot be friends upon any other terms than upon the terms of equality.”