Duterte’s non-censure of China on SCS dispute hit


Long before the Philippines was designated as host for the ASEAN Summit 2017, those instrumental in filing and winning the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague over the country’s maritime territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea (SCS) were hoping that this could be the right opportunity and venue by which the ASEAN bloc, through its chairman, President Rodrigo Duterte, could express condemnation over China’s aggressive build-up of artificial islands and militarization of the same, which are now viewed as a threat to the peace and security of the region.

What gave these people the confidence that this will be realized is the fact that many of the member-nations are, like the Philippines, contesting China’s claim of its own territorial waters.

Unfortunately, the ruling of the PCA came after Duterte got elected president and as we all know he never considered this favorable arbitral tribunal’s ruling a victory of sort for the country as he continued making deals with China.

In fact one would think that Duterte should have kept distance from China after illegally claiming and occupying parts of our sovereignty, but he instead honored the invitation of China’s president to visit him.

But do we really have to blame Duterte if, as chairman of the 30th ASEAN Summit, he failed to censure China over what it has done with impunity in the SCS?

Throughout the summit Duterte said the Philippines and other nations were helpless to stop the island building, so there was no point discussing it at all.

Duterte was just being practical and realistic for, indeed, the issue in the SCS among claimant nations versus China is no longer about resolving China’s permanent military presence in the area, but rather in trying to manage and make the best out of their presence in the region.

What we and the other ASEAN member-nations are facing now is a developing geopolitical situation which has been arrogantly imposed on us.

This is the price of being an underdeveloped country. Against China we are nothing. If the U.S. was not able to stop China’s military build-up in the SCS, who are we to stop them?

But as people, we just have to make sure that our pride and dignity will not go to the dogs.

We will see how Duterte could protect us and where his independent foreign policy will get us to.

We can’t do nothing but cross our fingers.


PH-China relations more important than sea row ruling by international tribunal


President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

If anybody is still wondering why President Rodrigo Duterte was included among the 74 most powerful people in the world, one has only to read this piece and see how his decision to “set aside” an international ruling which concluded that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the South China Sea is impacting the world community.

It ruffled the feathers of some world leaders that the Duterte cozied up with China despite the favorable ruling the country got, but declaring now that he would not press Beijing to honor the ruling even if factual new satellite images released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington reveal weapons emplacements for the first time on their man-made islands, is tantamount to defying the powers that be.

What this simply means is that Duterte is, indeed, putting a premium on the PH-China relationship rather than upholding the tribunal decision that  China doesn’t have the right to resources within its “nine-dash line,” which extends hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan and covers some 90% of the disputed waters.

Besides, how could one really justify the implementation of the international tribunal’s ruling when, in the first place, China has not only boycotted the proceeding but also does not acknowledge the decision, and, second, that being the case, what else could the international community do when China has already reclaimed and have created harbors, runways and reinforced hangars big enough for military aircraft on the islands?

America should not blame Duterte if the latter’s statements and pronouncements run counter to their interest in the country and in the region.

Why did America allow China to build up islands in the South China Sea and turn it into military installations when they know what is going on in the world with all their imaging satellites in place?

What else could Duterte do really, if you think about it, but have a pact with the devil for as long as the country benefits from it?

Apparently, the one appearing to be the devil in Duterte’s eyes are the Americans, the way he is now imposing his independent foreign policy.

It looks like the leaders of the ASEAN are all recognizing and acknowledging Duterte’s out of the box leadership and this is what matters most to him because now he is considered as one of them who don’t feel comfortable being America’s lap dog.

China’s menacing threat in South China Sea dispute

spratlyConsider this as a sequel to my previous blog: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/open-bases-for-us-japan-forces/

As top diplomats of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are coming together in Brunei to discuss regional issues, the same contentious topic will take center stage again, among other things, which is that of easing tension and finding solution to the impasse of sovereignty dispute in the South China Sea contested by small neighboring countries in the region and economic giant China that is claiming the area almost in its entirety.

The Philippines is seen by China as the most pugnacious among the small claimant nations in the region not only for strongly criticizing China’s expansionist move of bullying and occupying territories that belongs to us because of its proximity, but also of seeking and accepting help from allies, like the US and Japan, and providing them now with possible access to the country’s military bases.

China has resisted, time and again, ASEAN efforts to create a legally-binding code to govern conduct on the sea, and analysts say Beijing will continue to oppose any agreement weakening its claims. Proof to this are the existing structures erected and more, presumably, to be built in the South China Sea and the massive and ominous presence of Chinese military and paramilitary vessels in the area.

Now Chinese state media has accused the Philippines of relying on the US as its “patron” and using the ASEAN group of nations as an “accomplice” in the violation of its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea and warned of a potential “counterstrike”.

“If the Philippines continues to provoke China… a counterstrike will be hard to avoid,” said an editorial in the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party.

More aggressive and terrorizing words, indeed!

But, since when has claiming and protecting what is legally yours in the eyes of the international community been a provocative gesture?

The editorial went on to say that the Philippines was guilty of “seven sins,” including the “illegal occupation” of parts of the Spratly Islands, strengthening control over disputed coral reefs, inviting foreign companies to develop oil and gas resources in disputed waters, and promoting the “internationalization” of the sea.

Since when has conforming and obeying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) been a crime?

International law prescribes that countries with sea territories are entitled to claim and area 250 kilometers from its maritime baseline as part of its economic zone. However, China holds a different view on this issue and this is where disputes with nearby countries evolve

The need for friendly allies to support us as we confront the selfish and wicked intentions of China in this part of the world has never been urgent and timely as it is now.