Posts Tagged ‘Bajo de Masinloc’

Time To Take Action To Defend The Philippines

June 13, 2017
OPINION
/ 12:22 AM June 13, 2017

I meant to write on Rizal and President Duterte, but taking part in the Defend Democracy Summit at the UP School of Economics on Monday brought me face to face with the human toll of the Duterte administration’s irresolution in defending the West Philippine Sea. We must make time to understand the Duterte era from a historical perspective; on Thursday, the Inquirer and the De La Salle University seek to do just that, with a historians’ forum on Philippine independence and the rise of China. But today—today I want to talk about Norma and Ping and the fishermen in Zambales they represent.

Let me belabor the obvious: The Defend Democracy Summit was called out of the sense that democracy in the Philippines today needs to be defended. The organizers defined four areas that needed defending: national sovereignty, human rights, democratic institutions, truth.

Assigned to the first workshop, I had the chance to listen to Prof. Jay Batongbacal, one of the world’s leading experts on the South China Sea disputes. (I added a few words on the Chinese view, from confusion in the 1930s about the location of the Spratlys to allegations in the English-language Chinese press of Philippine aggression in 2016.) In the discussion that followed, the diversity of the perspectives represented was striking: women, businessmen, students, environmentalists, political activists, fisherfolk. I was especially impressed by the intensity of the intervention of the likes of Norma and Ping, who represented fishermen from Zambales whose lives and livelihood are increasingly at risk.

 

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Not for lack of trying: The fishermen are organized, conduct roundtables in their communities, connect to local and national reporters. But since the start of the Duterte administration, they have found themselves at the mercy of the Chinese—and the authorities do not seem to be of any help. One of the representatives spoke of a recent incident where Chinese fishermen were arrested while poaching in internal waters, and a Chinese Embassy official appeared to tell police officers: “Philippine law does not apply to them (the poachers).” (I will try to get to the bottom of this incident.) He also vigorously rejected media reports that Filipino fishermen can now fish inside Scarborough Shoal.

A group of Zambales fishermen has been conducting meetings and workshops among themselves. In their last workshop, they came up with a list of five demands, in Filipino, that illustrates the immediate effect of the government’s failure to protect their way of life.

The five demands they addressed to the Duterte administration include:

Remove China’s illegal structures and stop certain practices that only favor China.

Allow fishermen to fish and to seek cover in Scarborough Shoal in times of typhoons and calamities.

Provide livelihood for fishermen’s families affected (by Chinese control of Scarborough Shoal since 2012).

Avoid classifying Scarborough as a marine sanctuary because in the end this will only become a fishing area for China.

Stop the illegal quarrying in Zambales used for the reclamation (of Chinese-occupied reefs) and the building of Chinese military structures, in the West Philippine Sea.

Another representative warned: “In five years, maybe in two years, Zambales will be out”—meaning out of fish stock, because of aggressive Chinese fishing.

Yesterday, June 12, was the 90th birthday of an extraordinary teacher who is, amazingly, still teaching. Onofre Pagsanghan, better known to generations of students at the Ateneo de Manila High School, and to thousands of students and parents who have heard his lectures in different schools across the country, as Mr. Pagsi, was—is—a spellbinding speaker. His gift is equal parts heart and craft; a lifetime of integrity and excellence becomes visible through his lectures, even his casual remarks.

What a privilege it was to study under him.

On Twitter: @jnery_newsstand

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/104727/remove-chinas-illegal-structures#ixzz4js4z0UQu
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FILE photo provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac —  A Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law.

Philippines: Constant Bowing To China Risks Marginalization, Supreme Court Judge warns

June 5, 2017
By: – Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ
/ 12:09 AM June 06, 2017
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Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
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The Philippines could see its own “Finlandization” if it does not assert its sovereignty and stand up to China in the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned on Monday.

“Unless we do something, we will be like Finland, a nominally independent country. We will have our own political system but when it comes to foreign affairs, we follow the foreign policies of China. That is what Finlandization means,” Carpio said at the Meet Inquirer Multimedia forum.

“Finlandization” is the neutralization of a small and vulnerable country in foreign policy to avoid being taken over by a bigger and more powerful neighbor.

READ: IN THE KNOW: Finlandization

The term was coined during the Cold War when the Soviet Union rendered Finland, which shares a long border with the communist giant, neutral to enable the smaller country to remain sovereign even just in name.

“[Finland] has been occupied by Russia before. To remain sovereign and independent, it has to be neutral, it has to follow Russia’s foreign policies,” Carpio said.

Carpio said that with China claiming 80 percent of the South China Sea, it would share a 1,700-kilometer-long boundary with the Philippines, leaving only a “tiny sliver of water” in Manila’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) separating the two countries.

He raised the possibility that China would build up Panatag Shoal (internationally known as Scarborough Shoal) soon, which is why the Duterte administration must assert the Philippines’ victory in the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which last year invalidated China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea and declared Beijing had violated Manila’s right to fish and explore resources in waters within its 370-kilometer EEZ.

Carpio stressed the arbitral court’s ruling was not a paper victory for the Philippines.

“It’s about time to bring it up now because time is of the essence … The coast is clear. It can happen anytime,” he said, referring to the possibility of China transforming Panatag Shoal into an artificial island and topping it with military facilities.

Once this happens, the Philippines can no longer take back Panatag, Carpio stressed.

Panatag Shoal is a resource-rich fishing ground 230 km west of Zambales province, well within the Philippine EEZ.

China seized Panatag Shoal from the Philippines after a two-month maritime standoff in 2012, prompting Manila to take its territorial dispute with Beijing to the international arbitral court in The Hague.

Beijing refused to take part in the arbitration and rejected the ruling, handed down on July 12 last year, insisting it had “undisputed sovereignty” in the South China Sea.

Last piece of puzzle

Also known as Bajo de Masinloc, Panatag Shoal is the “last piece in the jigsaw puzzle for China to control the South China Sea,” where it has developed disputed reefs into artificial islands with air and naval defense systems, Carpio said.

President Duterte practically green-lighted China’s reclamation of Panatag Shoal when he recently said he could not do anything to stop China, Carpio said.

He added that the United States under President Donald Trump was unlikely to stop China, as it was looking at Beijing for help in reining in North Korea.

Carpio recalled that in March 2016, Chinese dredgers were monitored to be on their way to Panatag Shoal but then US President Barack Obama warned Chinese President Xi Jinping to back off.

Control of the South China Sea would give China not only economic control, but also greater military power in the region.

Security specialists in Asia have long expressed concern over China’s objective to form an expansive maritime defensive perimeter straddling Asian waters and stretching to the Pacific Ocean, using its island-chain defense strategy.

If China succeeds in completing its first island chain in the South China Sea, it will proceed to build a second island chain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The Philippines and Japan are in the way of the Chinese defense strategy.

Japan sits above the first and second island chains, while the Philippines lies between the two chains.

“The feeling of being hemmed in, sandwiched, would be our feeling if China goes to the second island chain. If you rise economically, you will also rise militarily in power and gain more strategic advantage over your neighbors,” Carpio said.

Anchors of national policy

He said any Philippine leader must follow the “three anchors of national policy” in resolving the South China Sea dispute.

A Philippine leader must be someone who can be friendly and trade with China, but remain steadfast in defending the country’s territory and maritime entitlements, Carpio said.

The leader must also nurture the Philippines’ military alliance with the United States, he added.

Carpio emphasized that the Philippines must continue its engagement with the United States because the Mutual Defense Treaty keeps China’s aggression in the South China Sea in check.

He said he would give Mr. Duterte an “A++” in his friendliness to China, but added that the President had yet to prove himself as a staunch defender of Philippine territories and maritime entitlements.

Carpio recently earned the ire of President Duterte for urging the government to enforce the Hague court’s ruling.

“If I am called names, that is OK with me because I want to discuss this on [its] merits,” he said.

He emphasized that it was “the civic duty of every Filipino to defend our territory, defend our maritime entitlements in accordance with international law and our Constitution.”

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Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/157672/carpio-warns-ph-vs-bowing-china#ixzz4j9H3XFMJ
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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said th

Philippine Supreme Court Justice — Not even President Rodrigo Duterte or the Congress can waive the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea

May 11, 2017
Gov’t urged to protest Beijing acts despite friendlier ties
/ 12:57 PM May 11, 2017

CARPIO ON A FORUM OF PH STAKE ON WEST PHILIPPINE SEA / APRIL 25 2016 Senior Justice Antonio Carpio talks about country's stake in the West Philippine Sea during a forum in CLub Filipino in San Juan City. INQUIRER PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

Senior Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio talks about country’s stake in the West Philippine Sea during a forum in Club Filipino in San Juan City. INQUIRER PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

 

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Thursday said not even President Rodrigo Duterte or the Congress can waive the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea amid warming ties between Manila and Beijing.

Asked if the President could be breaking Philippine laws with his remarks and actions in connection with China, Carpio said Duterte should be careful in making “unilateral statements” as he is the one recognized to “bind the country.”

READ: Carpio book on sea row challenges China | Carpio hopes e-book on disputed seas reaches Chinese audience

“Because the ruling involves sovereign rights, it says the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea, so the sovereign rights cannot be waived by the President or anyone.  I don’t think even the Congress can waive that. Only the people can waive that. So if government officials waive that, it can be betrayal of public trust,” Carpio said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart.

Carpio was referring to the United Nations-backed arbitration ruling last year that invalidated China’s claims to almost all of the South China Sea and favored the Philippines based on the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. He was instrumental in Manila’s filing of the case.

Since his election in May last year, President Duterte has forged a “recalibrated” foreign policy that veered away from dependence on the United States and shifted toward friendlier relations with China and Russia.

Duterte, who is facing an impeachment complaint filed by the Magdalo group over his alleged mishandling of the South China Sea case, has repeatedly said that the Philippines can’t match China’s military power.

But Carpio said the Philippine government should keep on protesting Beijing’s reclamation and militarization activities in the South China Sea despite the country’s relatively weaker military capacity. Beijing, which refused to recognize the arbitral ruling, continues to develop artificial islands in the Spratlys archipelago.

“If we are no match with China, we don’t have to waive it. You can insist even if you can’t physically get it but you must keep on insisting. Because if you waive it, it’s gone forever. The moment we concede our sovereign rights, we cannot take it back because China will never give it back. That’s why we have to be very careful,” the justice said.

He said, “We have many cards to play that are not confrontational.”

Carpio cited Vietnam, one of the claimant countries in the disputed seas, as a possible model for the Philippines. Hanoi maintains good trade relations with Beijing despite a strong stance in the maritime row.

“I would take the approach of Vietnam as the model because Vietnam is very strong in resisting China’s encroachment but they continue to have very strong trade relations with China. A lot of Chinese companies operate in direct export zones. It’s not an ‘either or’ because they were able to separate these issues and China would accept that,” Carpio said.

“If we adopt that attitude that we don’t want to displease China, we’ll never get back our exclusive economic zone. Every time China fortifies its claim, build something there, we will not displease China. It will end that way. We have to protest every act of China, any attempt to increase or enforce its claim,” he added.

Carpio has recently launched a book that questions China’s claims to the disputed seas, which he said he will distribute online in Mandarin so it could reach Chinese people. CBB

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/156441/carpio-duterte-congress-cant-waive-ph-rights-west-ph-sea#ixzz4gkZbLOtS
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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law and nobody has even complained.

China is likely to militarize Scarborough Shoal — Philippines sees its islands become Chinese

May 11, 2017
Scarborough Shoal, Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal, is a traditional common fishing ground located 120 nautical miles from Zambales. Google Maps

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing may start building military facilities on Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea as part of their strategy in countering the United States.

 

In an interview with ANC’s “Headstart,” Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said China may reclaim Scarborough Shoal in the same way they did with Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands.

Carpio explained that Scarborough Shoal is a strategic location for China as it guards the exit to the Pacific, which would allow them to fire missiles directed to the US in the future.

“Scarborough Shoal guards the exit to the Pacific because the Chinese submarines, nuclear-armed submarines are based in Hainan (Island) and if they fire their missiles in the South China Sea, those missiles will not reach the US because the range is only about 7,500 kilometers,” Carpio said.

Image result for Scarborough shoal, photos

Recent reports showed that China has been making preparations for new land-based missile installations on Hainan Island in the South China Sea.

Satellite imagery from ImageSat International reveals recent changes in the layout of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Yulin Naval Base at the tip of Hainan Island.

Defense News reported that the PLA has deployed multiple missile launchers on the western side of Yulin Naval Base in less than two months.

Carpio, meawhile, noted that China would have to go to the mid-Pacific in able to launch missiles that would reach the US.

“They have to go to the mid-Pacific and their only exit is though the Bashi channel and the air and naval base of China in Scarborough Shoal will protect that exit to the Bashi channel,” Carpio said.

Situated in Batanes off northern Luzon, the Bashi Channel is a route to enter or exit the Western Pacific.

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China is preparing for the reclamation and construction on Scarborough Shoal

“If they reclaim it, it will be like their reclamation in Mischief Reef where they have a runway, they have a harbor for warships and their warships from there can go to the Bashi Channel to protect their outlet to the Pacific,” Carpio said.

Carpio warned that increased Chinese presence in Scarborough Shoal means that they are planning something.

“Scarborough Shoal, I think, is the last shoal that they will reclaim and build into an artificial island to house, to host air and naval base and that could happen anytime,” the high court justice said.

‘China’s militarization of South China Sea is real’

Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, said that Washington is challenged by an aggressive China which continues a methodical strategy to control the South China Sea.

“China’s militarization of the South China Sea is real,” Harris told the US Senate Armed Services Committee a few weeks ago.

Harris stressed that he has testified before that China was militarizing the international waterway and airspace above it by building air and naval bases on seven man-made islands in the Spratlys.

“Despite subsequent Chinese assurances at the highest levels that they would not militarize these bases, today, they have these facilities that support long-range weapons emplacements, fighter aircraft hangars, radar towers and barracks for their troops,” Harris said.

China is nearly finished with its construction of three air bases on Subi (Zamora), Mischief (Panganiban) and Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reefs in the Spratly Islands.

Beijing’s naval, air, radar and defensive facilities in the islands would allow them to deploy military assets including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers to the Spratly Islands at any time.

RELATED: China can now deploy military assets to South China Sea

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/11/1698927/china-scarborough-shoal-carpio-south-china-sea

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Hong Kong media reported Monday, April 25 that as China seeks to project its power in the disputed West Philippine sea (South China sea) The Chinese is now preparing for the reclamation and construction on Panatag shoal (Scarborough shoal). An islet inside the exclusive economic zone claimed by the Philippines.

The South China Morning Post daily newspaper cited an anonymous source near the People’s Liberation Army saying, “No one can stop us” We will set-up a station on Scarborough Shoal, otherwise called Bajo de Masinloc, 230 kilometers (143 miles) off the Philippine coast. It is claimed by Manila but has been under Beijing’s control since 2012,

hydhpt

China’s plans to build up Scarborough Shoal also could be a response to an international court ruling anticipated later this month or early next month that is expected to rule in favor of Manila’s claims to the Spratlys.

It likewise takes after a declaration by the US and the Philippines that they would dispatch joint maritime patrol in the West Philippine sea.

China may also be moving quickly to build up Scarborough Shoal over concerns the next U.S. president will be tougher on Chinese maritime expansion.

U.S. Military analyst said that in order to get ahead of this potential confrontation, China will move this year to slice off the next piece of salami—the uninhabited shoals like at Scarborough.”

Scarborough was once used by the U.S. Navy as a bombing range in the early 1980s, something that could complicate the Chinese development plan.

Below is details of the militarization plan for Scarborough Shoal in the Spratly Islands were obtained by U.S. intelligence agencies over the last several months, according to defense officials.

China’s militarization plan for Scarborough Shoal

The plans were confirmed last month when a website for Chinese military enthusiasts posted a detailed dredging plan for Scarborough Shoal, including a runway, power systems, residences, and harbor capable of supporting Chinese navy warships.

The website included satellite photographs purportedly based on a construction bid proposed by the “Huangyan Island Township,” a municipality created under what China claims is its regional authority on Sansha Island, located near China’s Hainan Island.

A graphic with one photo outlined the development plan, with three Chinese guided-missile frigates at a wharf at the southern opening of the shoal.

Other features include an airport and runway at the northern end, an electrical plan, a water treatment plant, a residential building, a hotel, and a “travel holiday” area.

The reported plan to develop and militarize Scarborough Shoal, however, has set off warning bells in both the Pentagon and State Department because of the area’s proximity to the Philippines, a U.S. treaty ally that recently agreed to enhance defense cooperation in the face of Chinese aggression.

Because of this report, six U.S. military aircraft that stayed behind at Clark Air Base after the 2016 Balikatan exercises have conducted a fly ops in the Scarborough Shoal according to the Pacific Air Forces.

United States A10 warthog

“The A-10s and HH-60s conducted a flying mission through the international airspace in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal west of the Philippines providing air and maritime situational awareness,” said the Pacific Air Forces in a public statement on Thursday.

Also, read this U.S. fighter jets conduct fly ops on Scarborough Shoal

U.S. A10 Warthog stationed at Clark Air Base, Pampanga – kunsan.af.mil

Their missions is to promote transparency and safety of movement in international waters and airspace, representing the US commitment to ally and partner nations and to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region’s continued stability now and for generations to come. – Jason E.

http://www.manilalivewire.com/2016/04/china-is-preparing-for-the-reclamation-and-construction-on-scarborough-shoal/

Related here on Peace and Freedom:

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law and nobody has even complained.

South China Sea: Defense Secretary’s visit in islands “just routine” for the Philippines — But China was “gravely concerned about and dissatisfied” with the trip

April 23, 2017
Pag-asa Island, part of Palawan province, in the disputed West Philippine Sea is controlled by the Philippines despite Chinese claims of sovereignty over it. STAR/File photo
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MANILA, Philippines — The visit of security officials to Pag-asa Island was routine and was in line with international law, Malacañang said Sunday after China expressed alarm over their trip to the island in the disputed Spratly chain.

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and top military officials visited Pag-asa Island in Palawan province on Friday to inspect the facilities in the area, which is inhabited by about 200 people.
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The visit was meant to enable officials to assess what improvements can be done in the island, the second largest in the Spratlys.
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The government has earmarked around P1.6 billion to develop Pag-asa and is planning to build a beaching ramp, fish port, radio station, ice plant, water desalination facility, sewage facility and houses for soldiers.
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The visit did not sit well with China, which claims historical rights over almost 90 percent of areas in the South China Sea, including Pag-asa.
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Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said China was “gravely concerned about and dissatisfied” with the trip, which he claimed went against the consensus reached by Manila and Beijing “to properly deal with the South China Sea issue.”
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Lu Kang — File Photo
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Lu also urged the Philippines to “faithfully follow the consensus” between the two countries, “maintain general peace and stability in the South China Sea” and “promote the sound and steady development of China-Philippine relations.”
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Routine patrol

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Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Lorenzana’s visit to Pag-asa was just part of a “routine” patrol in the South China Sea, which the Philippines calls the West Philippine Sea.
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“The Philippines has long been undertaking customary and routine maritime patrol and overflight in the West Philippine Sea which are lawful activities under international law. Such flights will likewise enable us to reach our municipality,” Abella said in a statement.
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Abella said the visit was also in line with the government’s aim to improve the quality of life of Filipinos in the island.
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“The visit of the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to Pag-asa Island is part of the efforts to improve the safety, welfare, livelihood of Filipinos residing and living in the municipality of Kalayaan which is part of the province of Palawan,” the presidential spokesman said.
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China has used a similar argument to justify reclamation activities in the South China Sea.
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China challenges PAF planes

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While on its way to Pag-asa, the military plane carrying Lorenzana and military officials were warned by Chinese forces to leave the area but the pilot insisted that they were in Philippine airspace.
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Lorenzana has downplayed the incident, saying Philippine air assets conducting resupply operations usually receive warnings from Chinese forces.
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During President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China last October, Manila and Beijing agreed to hold dialogues on the South China Sea dispute, a move that Chinese officials claimed signaled the “full recovery” of the friendship between the two countries.
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The Duterte administration’s decision to hold dialogues with China on the dispute is a departure from the policy of former President Benigno Aquino III, who preferred that the issue be tackled through multilateral channels.
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In 2013, the Philippines challenged the legality of China’s expansive claim in the South China Sea before an international arbitral tribunal in Hague.
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The court decided in favor of the Philippines last year, ruling that China’s maritime claim has no legal basis.
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China has refused to recognize the ruling, dismissing it as a “mere piece of paper” that would not affect its territorial rights.
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Duterte has said he is ready to set aside the arbitral ruling to enhance the Philippines’ ties with China. He stressed, though, that he would not bargain away the Philippines’ maritime claims and that there would be a time when he would bring up the arbitral ruling before the Chinese government.
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 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

What is China so passionate about in the Philippine Seas?

April 23, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor

Philippine soldier stands guard over the South China Sea.

By: Artemio V. Panganiban – @inquirerdotnet — Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:20 AM April 23, 2017

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Why is China so passionate in owning Scarborough Shoal and several maritime features in the Spratlys in the South China Sea (SCS)? And yet, so easily conceded the Philippines’ rights over Benham Rise?

No controversy. The short answer is that Benham Rise is outside the so-called nine-dash line under which China claims historic title and sovereignty over almost the entire SCS.

But unlike the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal, Benham Rise is totally submerged in water ranging from 50 to 5,000 meters in depth. This submarine status makes the exploitation of its vast resources extremely expensive and difficult to undertake.

On the other hand, the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal are located in much shallower waters; in fact, China has enlarged some of the isles and rocks therein, not only to extract mineral resources but also, more visibly, to construct airports, seaports, buildings and other structures.

Mendoza’s primer. Superlawyer Estelito P. Mendoza recently wrote a primer on this subject, published by the UP Law Center. As one of the two vice chairs of the Philippine delegation to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, which convened during martial law in December 1973, he had an insider view of the negotiations.

(The other vice chair was then Foreign Undersecretary Jose Ingles. Alternating as chairs were then Sen. Arturo Tolentino and then Justice Secretary Vicente Abad Santos. All are now deceased.)

In 1982, the UN finally adopted the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) that came into force in 1994. Mendoza related that our delegation was able to include the “archipelagic principles” in the Unclos, and eventually the “ultimate compromise … to have a 12-mile territorial sea and an exclusive economic zone of 200 miles…”

On March 10, 2009, Republic Act No. 9522 was approved. It defined the baselines from which to measure our 1) 12-nautical-mile (NM) territorial sea, 2) 24-NM contiguous zone, 3) 200-NM exclusive economic zone, and 4) 350-NM continental shelf. (See my column on 4/2/17 for details.)

Thereafter, the Philippines notified the UN Secretary General (UNSG) of the baselines defined under RA 9522. It claimed the status of an “archipelagic state,” composed of the “Philippine archipelago” (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) plus two “regimes of islands,” the Kalayaan Island Group in the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal (or Bajo de Masinloc).

Soon after, China submitted to the UNSG a “Note” dated April 13, 2009, alleging that RA 9522 “illegally claims Huangyan Island (referred to as ‘Bajo de Masinloc’ in the Act) and some islands and reefs of Nansha Islands (referred to as ‘The Kalayaan Island Group’ in the Act) of China… The Chinese Government hereby reiterates that Huangyan Island and Nansha Islands have been part of the territory of China since ancient time.”

Notably, it did not contest our rights over the “Philippine archipelago” and implicitly its corresponding territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf including Benham Rise.

No ruling on land. Mendoza opined, “Considering that … China had taken possession and occupied several of the islands (or features) within the Kalayaan Group of Islands and over Bajo de Masinloc,” the Philippines should have initiated a proceeding “in regard to these matters.”

As it is, however, our arbitral claim and the arbitral award itself did not settle the issue of Chinese occupation and sovereignty over these islands or features. In fact, the arbitral tribunal had no jurisdiction to award title or sovereignty over land territory. Consequently, China cannot be expected to surrender its occupation or sovereignty over them.

Mendoza recalled that in a conversation with then President Ferdinand Marcos, then Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping, during a state visit here in June 1975, advised that negotiation is the only solution. And if no agreement is reached, how should the matter be resolved? His answer was simply “to talk some more, and more until agreement is reached.”

Consistent with this “talk, talk, talk” approach is the Duterte administration’s pursuit of the proposed Code of Conduct between Asean and China, spoken about by Acting Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo in a recent Inquirer Forum. Is this a better strategy to resolve the impasse in the SCS? (To be continued.)

Comments to chiefjusticepanganiban@hotmail.com

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/103399/scarborough-spratlys-benham#ixzz4f4JlFpes
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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

South China Sea: Philippines has lost traditional fishing ground as Vietnamese move in with Chinese, Philippines envoy to China says — Everyone shares the common fishing ground — But fewer fish each year

April 4, 2017
South China Sea: Philippines has lost traditional fishing ground as Vietnamese move in with Chinese, Philippines envoy to China says — Everyone shares the common fishing ground — But fewer fish each year

Scarborough Shoal, Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal, is a traditional common fishing ground located 120 nautical miles from Zambales. Google Maps

MANILA, Philippines — The reported presence of Vietnamese fishing vessels at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal is actually good news, Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana said Tuesday.

The United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal based in the Hague had ruled that the shoal is a traditional fishing ground of the Philippines, China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

RELATED: How the Hague court ruled on the Philippines’s 15 arguments

In an interview with ANC’s Hot Copy on Headstart, Sta. Romana said that Vietnamese presence in the region brings back the essence of Panatag Shoal as a common fishing ground.

“Had we known this verdict back it 2012 that it’s a historical common fishing ground perhaps we should not have arrested the Chinese fishermen. It should have been a common fishing ground,” Sta. Romana said.

READ: Seen fishing on Panatag, Vietnam gains from Philippines’ arbitral win

In 2012, the Philippines was involved in a tense standoff with China over the shoal located 120 nautical miles from Zambales.

This picture taken on July 19, 2013 shows giant clams on display in Tanmen, in China's southern Hainan Province. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO / AFP PHOTO / STR

In demand: Giant clams for sale in China’s southern Hainan Province. Photo: AFP

The standoff began when a Philippine Navy surveillance plane sighted eight Chinese fishing vessels anchored in a lagoon at Panatag.

The Philippine Navy then deployed warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar to inspect the Chinese vessels, wherein they discovered large amounts of illegally collected coral, giant clams and live sharks.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, boat, outdoor and water

A China Coast Guard ship (top) and a Philippine supply boat engage in a stand off as the Philippine boat attempts to reach the Second Thomas Shoal, a remote South China Sea a reef claimed by both countries, on March 29, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jay Directo )

Sta. Romana, however, said that the 2012 Panatag Shoal standoff led to the country’s loss of the traditional fishing ground.

“That is what led to our loss. We tried to enforce and say that it is ours… It is true that what is ours is ours if it’s accepted by the world but in that case, the Chinese also say the same thing,” the diplomat said.

There have been reports that China is building an environmental monitoring station on Panatag Shoal.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has denied the report, saying that such facility on Panatag Shoal had been checked and was found to be false.

“That does not exist at all,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

Hua Chunying, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “South China Sea is indisputable Chinese territory.”

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/04/1687605/vietnamese-presence-panatag-good-news-says-philippines-envoy-china

Related:

 — From March 25, 2017 with links to other related articles

 

 (National Geographic on the South China Sea)

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China’s Tian Jing Hao – Cutter suction dredger — Used to destroy South China Sea coral reefs to provide dredge material for new man made- islands — an environmental disaster

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The End of an era?  Fishermen work to unload a net full of anchovies during a fishing expedition in the Pacific Ocean. Photo AP

 

 

Duterte, China and the South China Sea — Bald-faced sellout of our country

April 3, 2017
OPINION / LATEST OPINION
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Impeachable
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Philippine Inquirer
01:02 AM April 03, 2017
Maritime hotspots in Asia, among which is the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, which the Philippines calls Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, off Zambales. AMTI/CSIS, file

Although I am not entirely sure of what exactly the orders of President Duterte are in regard to Panatag Shoal, his remark that he could not stop China from building infrastructure on that Philippine territory sounds like he was not going to exert any effort to stop China at all. This is quite alarming. It is like a security guard hired to protect your property but who refuses to do his/her job when a criminal tries stealing some stuff from your garage or erect a structure on the property; or like the police who refuse to do anything to stop a crime in progress. In the case of the President, it is an impeachable offense, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Protecting our territories is one of the duties the President swore to uphold. The problem is we have opted to subject President Duterte to a very low leadership bar and allow his alarming remarks to go under the radar. But we must dig deeper into the reason the President seems not to care and why he so readily gives up our sovereign rights to China.

Is it connected to the billions of dollars of Chinese pledges reportedly to come from the primarily China-bankrolled Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.  Shall we be surprised that those billions of dollars reportedly will be poured into the Philippines’ public private partnership program, which public officials use to fill their pockets, leaving the nation holding an empty bag?

It’s as plain as the nose on our face—yes, the blatant disregard of our territorial integrity by China and President Duterte, together with his cross-eyed attraction to those pledges.

If that’s not a bald-faced sellout of our country, I don’t know what is.

JOSE SANTAMARIA, j_e_santamaria@hotmail.com

Image may contain: ocean, outdoor, water and nature

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/102928/impeachable#ixzz4dBP8SYUb
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 (Contains links to several previous articles on the South China Sea)

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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

South China Sea: Vietnam Fishing Far Closer to Scarborough Shoal, The Philippines — Testing Ownership and Resolve of China and/or The Philippines?

April 3, 2017
Maritime hotspots in Asia, among which is the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, which the Philippines calls Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, off Zambales. AMTI/CSIS, file

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 12:06 p.m.) — Vietnamese fishing vessels have reportedly been seen moored at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, inserting Hanoi into the post-ruling narrative of the South China Sea dispute.

On July 12, 2016, the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal based in the Hague issued its ruling on the Philippines’ complaint against China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea. In its ruling, the tribunal recognized the Scarborough Shoal as a traditional fishing ground of neighbors the Philippines, China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
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No automatic alt text available.
On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

The Duterte administration, however, has decided to set aside the ruling and sought to rebuild its relationship with Beijing.

In a Twitter post, Ryan Martinson, assistant professor at China Maritime Studies Institute, noted that a number of Vietnamese fishing and law enforcement vessels were present near the Panatag Shoal.

 

Leaning on Hague ruling

Euan Graham, Director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute, said that Vietnam serves to keep the Hague award alive by internationalizing the issue.

“Manila recently announced a bilateral coordination mechanism on the South China Sea, with Beijing, due to commence in May. This may have raised Vietnam’s diplomatic concerns,” Graham said in his article title “What is Vietnam’s fishing flotilla doing at Scarborough Shoal?”

Vietnam, having one of the region’s biggest fleets, might be putting fishing rights deliberately to the test at the shoal for other reasons.

Image result for vietnamese fishing boats

Vietnamese fishing boats

“Vietnam stands to gain considerably from the Philippines’ arbitration verdict, especially its consummate rejection of China’s nine dashed-line claims, which intrude far into Vietnam’s EEZ,” Graham said.

The arbitral tribunal’s recognition of multi-nation fishing rights at Panatag Shoal gives Vietnam an “in” to help implement the ruling, the analyst said.

Implications for Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, has reasons not to welcome Hanoi’s intervention as it would broaden the dispute between Manila and Beijing when the former’s priority is rapprochement.

The presence of Vietnamese Coast Guard vessels in the area could be interpreted as reviving a latent claim to the shoal’s sovereignty.

Image result for vietnamese fishing boats

Graham, however, noted that Vietnam likely consulted with the Philippines in advance.

“Duterte reaffirmed the strategic partnership on his visit to Hanoi last September, including a strongly worded joint statement upholding ‘freedom of navigation and overflight as well as unimpeded commerce in the region, particularly in the South China Sea,'” Graham said.

The supposed coordination between the Philippines and Vietnam speaks to a growing security bilateralism among certain members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

According to Graham, it would make no sense for Vietnam to alienate the Philippines, its fellow frontline claimant in the South China Sea, as Manila sits in the ASEAN chair and leads the Code of Conduct negotiations with Beijing.

“The appearance of a Vietnamese fishing flotilla near one of the South China Sea’s most remote flashpoints is not just about catching fish. Hanoi’s legal and diplomatic motivations run deeper. It will be interesting to see if China reacts,” Graham said.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/03/1687281/seen-fishing-panatag-vietnam-gains-philippines-arbitral-win

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Philippines: President Duterte Foes Amend Impeachment Complaint, Call Duterte Stance on China ‘Dereliction of Duty’

March 20, 2017
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano holds a copy of the impeachment complaint he filed against President Duterte at the House of Representatives on Thursday. Philstar.com/File photo
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MANILA, Philippines — Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said that his group is considering  filing a supplemental complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly being subservient to China.
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Alejano’s statement came after Duterte claimed last week that he allowed China to send survey ships to Benham Rise as part of an agreement.
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The Department of Foreign Affairs last week said it was not aware of an agreement or policy over the Benham Rise region.
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In an interview on CNN’s ‘The Source,’ Alejano said that the president’s action is a matter of national security since there is a conflict of interest with China on the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea that Manila claims.
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“We’re talking about national interest here, we’re talking about national security here because we have a clear conflict of interest in West Philippine Sea,” Alejano said.
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China has repeatedly reiterated its position over the South China Sea, saying it has a historical and legal claim over the vast area.
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An international tribunal however, ruled in favor of the Philippines in an arbitration case against China, saying that China’s “nine-dash line” claim over a large part of the South China Sea, including part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, has no basis.
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In a speech on Sunday, Duterte also said that he cannot stop China from setting up a reported monitoring station in the Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag or Bajo de Masinloc.
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“We cannot stop China from doing its thing. Hindi nga napara ng Amerikano,” Duterte said.
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Duterte added that the country will lose all of its military and policemen if he declares war against China.
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Alejano however, said that war is not the only solution, saying that the president could constantly raise issues in the West Philippines Sea.
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“He’s not doing that because he’s afraid to offend China,” Alejano said.
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He added that if Duterte said he cannot do anything to protect the country’s territory “then that’s dereliction of duty.”
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Related:
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 (Contains links to several previos articles on the South China Sea)