Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay’s pronouncement as ‘a great and resounding victory’ the arbitral tribunal’s favorable ruling in our dispute with China on the country’s claim of the West Philippine Sea is, to my mind, ambiguous at best and a sham at worst.
How can the country claim victory when China not only disrespects and dishonors the arbitral body and its decision but more significantly has not move an inch away from our own exclusive economic zone, which the country has the sovereign rights to explore and exploit, conserve and manage the natural resources, whether living or non-living, etc.
What is even disadvantageous is that China has not stop developing and strengthening militarily the disputed area, all to our dismay.
Most wanting yet is that the rich fishing grounds where our fisher folks used to go for a living continues to be off limits to them.
Yes, they call it a historic ruling by the arbitral tribunal but what impact has it made on the foreign powers, most notably the United States?
Nothing! Why? Because there is nothing the Western powers can really do directly about it. That is the long and short of it.
Yet Yasay says, “We are also getting the pressure on the part of the international community to urge China to precisely respect and recognize the decision of the arbitral tribunal. This pressure on the part of the international community is building up.”
If the most powerful country in the world and its allies can’t compel China to honor the decision of the arbitral tribunal, who are we to bulldoze this giant nation?
“We are trying to make China understand, especially when the dust settles, that unless they respect and recognize the arbitral tribunal, they will be the losers at the end of the day on this matter,” Yasay said in a congressional budget hearing.
Losers or is it that China just don’t give a damn and continue to have their aggressive winning ways?
For how else one should interpret what the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said in an interview with reporters on this matter: “We cannot accept the arbitration award but we do look forward to talk to the Philippines bilaterally of the troubles we have.”
That is the reality we and the rest of the world have to contend with.