Posts Tagged ‘Filipino fishermen’

South China Sea: Philippines and China To Meet Again This Year — The Elephant in the Room? China’s Claim to Sea Ownership Is Not Valid

July 12, 2017
 / 07:25 AM July 12, 2017

Malacañang said on Tuesday that Manila and Beijing have agreed to discuss “mutually acceptable approaches” to deal with their overlapping claims in the South China Sea, as the Philippines marks the first anniversary of its legal victory over China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on Wednesday.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Philippines-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism would meet again in the second half of the year to find ways to enhance “trust and confidence” on issues related to the territorial dispute.

China claim invalid

On July 12 last year, the Hague tribunal ruled that China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea had no legal basis and that it had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights to fish and explore resources in the West Philippine Sea—waters within Manila’s 372-kilometer exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

“The Philippines and China have reviewed their experience on the West Philippine Sea issue, exchanged views on the current issues of concern to either side, and they have agreed that they will further discuss mutually acceptable approaches to deal with them,” Abella said.

He said Filipino and Chinese officials could discuss the plight of Filipino fishermen who were still having a hard time going to their traditional fishing grounds after these were seized by the Chinese.

“The second meeting coming up within the bilateral … I’m sure items like that will be considered. However, it’s excellent that we are now in dialogue with the other country,” Abella said.

Improving relations

Since coming to power last year, President Duterte has tried to steer the Philippines closer to China, improving diplomatic, trade and tourism ties between the two countries.

In an Asean security forum in Makati last month, Assistant Foreign Secretary Hellen de la Vega said the Philippines had not abandoned the tribunal’s ruling.

“The arbitral award stays. (President Duterte) already said this. The Philippine government has not abandoned it. What he’s trying to say is he would raise it at an appropriate time. So, that appropriate time would have to be defined by him, being the chief architect of policy,” she said.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/913132/manila-beijing-to-discuss-west-ph-sea-dispute-later-this-year#ixzz4mbLuas2q
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The international arbitration court in the Hague said on July 12, 2016, that China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law — making the Vietnamese and Philippine claims on South China Sea islands valid and lawful.

South China Sea: One Year After The Philippines Win At The Permanent Court of Arbitration — Brilliant Statecraft or Treason?

July 12, 2017

By Ellen Tordesillas

Posted at Jul 12 2017 02:46 AM

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One of the good things that President Duterte has done was to rekindle relations with China which reached its lowest ebb during the administration of Benigno Aquino III.

Never mind that during the election campaign, he rode on the anti-China sentiments of most Filipinos fueled by the pro-American leanings of Aquino and his Foreign Secretary, Albert del Rosario.

Remember, a standard in Duterte’s campaign speech was his boast that he will ride on a jet ski to one of the islands in the disputed Spratlys and plant the Philippine flag. He would kiss the flag to dramatize his promise. Once in Malacanang, he was asked when he was going to jetski to Spratlys and he replied it was a joke. He said he didn’t even know how to swim.

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In the guise of independent foreign policy, Duterte didn’t just cozy up to China. He attacked the United States when then President Barack Obama reminded him to respect human rights amid reports of rampant killings in connection with his anti-illegal drugs campaign.

His foreign policy moves can be likened to a pendulum that swung from extreme right to extreme left. Today marks first year anniversary of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands on the case filed by the Philippines against China on the latter’s activities in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

China did not participate in the Arbitral Court proceedings.

It was a major victory for the Philippines. The Arbitral Court declared invalid China’s nine-dashed line map which covers some 85 percent of the whole South China which infringes on the economic exclusive zones of other countries namely the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Arbitral Court also ruled that China’s  artificial islands – rocks that were turned into garrisons through reclamation – in the disputed South China Sea do not generate entitlements under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea such as economic exclusive zone (220 nautical miles from the shore) and extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles).

As to Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, which is within the Philippine EEZ, the Arbitral Court said it’s a traditional fishing ground of Philippine, Chinese, Vietnamese and fishermen of other nationalities and should be maintained as such.

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Filipino fishermen had been denied access to the area since April 2012 after a two-month stand off between Chinese and Philippine Coastguards following arrest by a Philippine warship of Chinese fishermen in Scarborough shoal. Two Chinese ships remained even after the Aquino government withdrew its ships.

Duterte takes pride that because of his friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Filipino fishermen are now allowed to fish in the area, which is being guarded by two Chinese ships.

It’s like a battered wife thankful that the husband has stopped beating her.

Duterte’s critics have scored his deference to China even  echoing  the position of China that historically South China Sea is theirs  as the name states.

In an ambush interview last April. Duterte said, “They really claim it as their own, noon pa iyan. Hindi lang talaga pumutok nang mainit. Ang nagpainit diyan iyong Amerikano. Noon pa iyan, kaya (It goes way back. The issue just did not erupt then. What triggered the conflict were the Americans. But it goes all the way back. That’s why it’s called) China Sea… sabi nga nila (they say) China Sea, historical na iyan. So hindi lang iyan pumuputok (It’s historical. The issue just had not erupted then) but this issue was the issue before so many generations ago.”

VERA Files fact-check about the name of South China Sea showed  that  South China Sea used to be called the Champa Sea, after the Cham people who established a great maritime kingdom in central Vietnam from the late 2nd to the 17th century.

That is contained in the book,  ‘The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea” by  Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

Carpio said it was the  Portuguese navigators who coined the name South China Sea.

“The ancient Malays also called this sea Laut Chidol or the South Sea, as recorded by Pigafetta in his account of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world from 1519 to 1522. In Malay, which is likewise derived from the Austronesian language, laut means sea and kidol means south,” he further said.

“The ancient Chinese never called this sea the South China Sea. Their name for the sea was “Nan Hai” or the South Sea, he adds.

Reading Duterte’s blurting the Chinese line on the South China name, Ruben Carranza, former commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government and now director of the Reparative Justice Program at the International Center for Transitional Justice, said “In football, that would be an ‘own goal.’

That’s when a player delivers the ball to the opponent’s goal.

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http://news.abs-cbn.com/blogs/opinions/07/11/17/opinion-ph-win-in-arbitral-court-one-year-after

Blog:www.ellentordesillas.com
E-mail:ellentordesillas@gmail.com

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Dominance of the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean would solidify China’s One Belt One Road project
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The international arbitration court in the Hague said on July 12, 2016, that China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law — making the Vietnamese and Philippine claims on South China Sea islands valid and lawful.
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China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning at Hong Kong
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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.

Duterte goes soft on Chinese ‘harassment’ of Filipino fishermen

April 28, 2017
China’s construction activities on Subi Reef is seen from Philippine-controled Pagasa Island in the South China Sea off Palawan province on April 21, 2017. Since 2013, China has launched an ambitious, aggressive island-building project in the disputed waterway that serves as a key global trade route. AP
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MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte skipped the expected expression of concern over Chinese actions against Filipino fishermen and called a recent incident in the disputed South China Sea a “misunderstanding.”

After Philippine authorities ordered an inquiry, Duterte confirmed on Thursday reports that the Chinese Coast Guard blocked and harassed Philippine-flagged vessel Princess Johann near the Union Banks in the Philippine-claimed Spratlys region. Even as no casualties were noted, the Filipino fishermen accused Chinese officers of firing at them.

“There is a misunderstanding there. We have talked about it. And sabi ko I hope it will not happen again,” Duterte said, a few days ahead of the Manila-hosted Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit.

Prodded by reporters to explain what was discussed among his officials about the incident, Duterte said it was the Filipino fishermen who were taking the risk despite Chinese presence in the area.

 

“Parang papasok talaga sila do’n farther,  (They were going further in) testing the waters and tempting the gods… Sinabi na nga nila d’yan na muna e (The Chinese even warned them to stay where they were),” Duterte said.

A Chinese speedboat supposedly approached the Filipino boat after it dropped anchor about 3.7 kilometers off the Chinese side of the atoll, according to reports.

“The crew hid and eventually cut their anchor line and fled the area,” the statement added.

Duterte, who has taken a friendly stance toward China and Russia instead of warming up to the country’s traditional ally, the United States, was resigned about what occurred in Philippine-claimed waters.

“Tanggapin na lang natin ‘yan (Let’s just accept that),” Duterte said. “You know guys, you must realize by now para mahinto na ‘yang dream ninyo. We cannot on our own enforce the arbitral judgment.”

In July, a few days after Duterte was installed president, the Philippines won in its maritime entitlements overlapping China’s in a United Nations-backed arbitration ruling. Beijing refused to recognize the landmark verdict.

The case was among the legacies of Duterte’s predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III, but the newly elected leader has keen on setting aside the ruling in building closer ties with China.

ALSO READ: For Duterte, pressuring China with arbitral award is ‘all dreams’

Duterte refused to raise the ruling in the ASEAN Summit the Philippines is hosting and in the bilateral negotiations with Beijing in May, promising to use the legal leverage at a later time. — with a report from Agence France Presse

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/28/1694800/duterte-goes-soft-chinese-harassment-filipino-fishermen

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FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, 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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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.

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Push for South China Sea code stirs Asean suspicions about Beijing’s endgame — Many remain unconvinced on the bypassing of international law — Voice suspicions of Beijing’s sincerity

April 27, 2017

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China-occupied Subi Reef at Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (REUTERS) – China’s support for finalising a code of conduct in the hotly contested South China Sea is generating some hope in South-east Asia of settling disputes, but those working out the terms remain unconvinced of Beijing’s sincerity.

Signing China up to a legally binding and enforceable code for the strategic waterway has long been a goal for claimant members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).

But given the continued building and arming of its artificial islands in the South China Sea, Beijing’s recently expressed desire to work with Asean to complete a framework this year has been met with scepticism and suspicion.

“Some of us in Asean believe this is just another ploy by China to buy time,” said one senior diplomat familiar with the talks. “China is expectedly stalling until it has completely attained its strategic objectives… What need is there for the green grass when the horse is dead?”

The framework seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, which commits to following the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight, and”refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features”.

But the DOC was not stuck to, especially by China, which has built seven islands in the Spratly archipelago. It is now capable of deploying combat planes on three reclaimed reefs, where radars and surface-to-air missile systems have also been installed, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative think tank.

Beijing insists its activities are for defence purposes, in areas it considers its waters. Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines, however, all claim some or all of the resource-rich waterway and its myriad of shoals, reefs and islands.

BINDING CONTRACT

The Asean diplomat said the two rounds of talks so far this year gave the impression of progress, but details worked out so far were “essentially the same” as the DOC.

Another diplomat from the 10-member bloc said the framework would be “re-stating most of the major points” of the DOC, but the hard part was getting China to agree to a legally binding contract.

“Here lies the big challenge. You need to understand this is not just a simple matter of conforming to a set of words,” the diplomat said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang did not directly answer a question on whether China would support an enforceable code of conduct, but said China hoped for the framework and code to be completed this year.

Finalising the framework would be a feather in the cap for the Philippines, which chairs Asean this year. Manila has reversed its stance on the South China Sea, from advocating a unified front and challenging Beijing’s unilateralism, to putting disputes aside to create warm ties.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has opted not to press China to abide by an international arbitration decision last year that ruled in Manila’s favour and invalidated Beijing’s sweeping South China Sea claims.

There will be no mention of the Hague ruling in an Asean leaders’ statement at a summit in Manila on Saturday, nor will there be any reference to concerns about island-building or militarization that appeared in last year’s text, according to excerpts of a draft seen by Reuters.

A diplomat at the Asean secretariat said there was urgency from all parties to get the framework done this year, but Asean was taking “a leap of faith” with China and there were concerns about what the end result might be.

Richard Heydarian, an expert on politics and international affairs at Manila’s De La Salle University, said China’s strategy was to project an image of being a responsible stakeholder rather than an aggressor, and avoid being bound to rules that could weaken its geopolitical position should the United States assert itself in the South China Sea.

“China wants to come up with a symbolic framework that says to America ‘Hey, back off, we’re dealing with Asean on a very diplomatic level’, but nothing significant enough to operationally restrict their ability to respond if the Trump administration takes a tougher position,” he said.

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FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, 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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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:

Philippines and the South China Sea: “We must not accept the position that China’s South China Sea build-up is a fait accompli that renders us helpless.”

April 26, 2017
Chinese structures and buildings on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratlys group of islands are seen 18 kilometers (11 miles) away from the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island off the disputed South China Sea Friday, April 21, 2017. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials flew to Thitu Island Friday to assert the country’s claim to the heartland of a disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. AP/Bullit Marquez
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MANILA, Philippines — Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who led the Philippines in filing an arbitration case against China, expressed disappointment over the reported draft of a communique that will be issued at the end of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Manila.

A draft of the “chairman’s statement” did not mention the arbitration decision issued by a United Nations-backed tribunal last year that invalidates China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, according to a report by the Associated Press.

“We shared the serious concerns expressed by some leaders over recent developments and escalation of activities in the area which may further raise tensions and erode trust and confidence in the region,” the draft statement said.

READ: ASEAN leaders likely to go soft on sea feud in Manila summit

Asked to comment on the draft statement’s treatment of the South China Sea developments, Del Rosario said that there is a minimum expectation of positive leadership to be attributed to President Rodrigo Duterte’s chairmanship of the 10-nation regional bloc.

“The draft of the Chairman’s Statement is deeply disappointing and, if not revisited, would manifest an absence of the desired leadership,” Del Rosario said in a statement released Wednesday.

Del Rosario has been urging the government to assert effective leadership as this year’s ASEAN chair by bringing up the arbitral tribunal ruling during the discussion of the maritime dispute.

In a forum earlier this week, Del Rosario said that the country must speak out and work with its Southeast Asian neighbors to stand in protest.

“We cannot wait for a ‘better time’ to come—we must create that time ourselves lest that opportunity be lost forever,” Del Rosario said.

The former Secretary of Foreign Affairs added that the arbitral award should be an integral part of the Code of Conduct being finalized.

“Moreover, we must not accept the position that China’s South China Sea build-up is a fait accompli that renders us helpless,” Del Rosario said in a forum last Tuesday.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/26/1694140/del-rosario-laments-draft-asean-statement-sea-row

RELATED: ASEAN countries urged to draft sea code, pressure China

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FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, 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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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: Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Suggests ASEAN Member States Make Hague International Court Ruling Part of Code of Conduct

April 25, 2017
The Philippines’ former top diplomat said the position that China’s SCS build-up is a fait accompli should be rejected. File

MANILA, Philippines –  Former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario yesterday urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to make the South China Sea (SCS) ruling an “integral” part of the Code of Conduct framework and the eventual finished document.

The Philippines’ former top diplomat said the position that China’s SCS build-up is a fait accompli should be rejected.

While most states strive for a peaceful, rules-based regional order in Southeast Asia, Del Rosario said China’s unilateralism has put this common vision at grave risk.

He urged ASEAN to be united in countering this challenge to its regional centrality and solidarity, noting that promoting the rule of law and strengthening multilateralism in support of the law must be key parts of ASEAN’s response.

“ASEAN and the international community as a whole should utilize the principles in the arbitral ruling to move diplomatic engagement forward,” Del Rosario said during the forum titled “The South China Sea: The Philippines, ASEAN, and their International Partners.”

The Philippines, under the Duterte administration, has decided to set aside the ruling in settling the maritime dispute with China.

“On shelving the ruling, what would happen if we should pass the point of no return?” Del Rosario asked.

The Philippines took a risk when the Philippine government went to arbitration at The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013 with Del Rosario as foreign affairs secretary.

The ruling of the international arbitral tribunal not only vindicated the Philippines, but also upheld the rule of law over the waters and global commons of the SCS, making the ruling an integral part of the universal body of international law.

Manila made a strong contribution to the region, as the ruling benefited not only the claimants but also the whole world.

“My hope is that our ASEAN neighbors share the pride of what a member state like ours can accomplish, and see in the ruling an opportunity for all of the Southeast Asian region. Ultimately, advocating a rules-based regime is deeply embedded in who we are and what we must do,” Del Rosario said.

As this year’s chair of the ASEAN, the Philippines, he emphasized, has a unique and important opportunity to dwell on how it can work with its neighbors to ensure that a rules-based order succeeds.

Del Rosario also pointed out that the purpose of the cooperation should go beyond maintaining friendly ties, as the Philippines must also cooperate to ensure a neighborhood where countries follow the rules and uphold their commitments.

In 2002, ASEAN and China committed to a non-binding agreement over how claimants should all behave in the SCS. In the spirit of preventing and reducing tensions, the countries committed to self-restraint from activities that would complicate or escalate disputes.

“I am sorry to say that in the years that followed, one country did not exercise the necessary restraint expected of it,” Del Rosario said.

In 2017, as in 2012, he said that the greatest immediate source of regional uncertainty has been China’s unlawful efforts to expand its footprint throughout the SCS.

“Our region cannot promote the rule of law while ignoring the law as it stands,” Del Rosario said. “Moreover, we must not accept the position that China’s South China Sea build-up is a fait accompli that renders us helpless.”

It should be unthinkable for any diplomatic mechanism – whether bilateral or multilateral – to be used as a channel to reward unilateral activity or preserve unlawful gains, according to Del Rosario.

He urged the Philippines to speak out and work with its neighbors and friends to stand united in protest of island-building and militarization, Filipino fishermen being barred from entering Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, irreparable destruction of marine commons and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s challenged flyover in the SCS.

“We cannot wait for a ‘better time’ to come – we must create that time ourselves, lest that opportunity be lost forever,” Del Rosario said.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/26/1694039/asean-urged-make-scs-ruling-part-sea-code

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 (Philippine Star)

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

 

 (National Geographic 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.

Despite all this:

South China Sea: Chinese warship harassed fishers from the Philippines, fired shots, lawmaker says — Philippine Government Not Being Truthful?

April 24, 2017

Magdalo Party-List Representative Gary C. AlejanoINQUIRER PHOTO / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

It was China’s Navy and not its Coast Guard that fired shots to drive away Filipino fishermen from Union Banks in the heavily disputed Spratly archipelago on April 9, making the incident more unsettling than previously thought, a lawmaker said on Sunday.

“According to the initial reports, it was the Chinese Coast Guard that was involved in the Union Banks incident. However, in our meeting with the fishermen themselves, we [learned] that it was actually a Chinese Navy ship [that was involved],” Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said in a statement.

Alejano, a former Marine officer, expressed concern that China’s aggressive action in the Spratlys was carried out by a “gray ship.”

The term “gray ship” refers to the navy of any country. “White ship” refers to the coast guard.

Different missions

Alejano emphasized the difference between the missions of the navy and coast guard.

The coast guard is tasked with enforcing maritime law and to conduct search and rescue, while the navy is tasked with fighting for the country at sea during war, he said.

Alejano warned: “The aggressive act of the Chinese Navy could trigger the Mutual Defense Treaty and there is a danger that the situation may escalate.”

Under the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the United States, an attack on a Philippine vessel in Philippine waters is an attack on the United States.

The United States has repeatedly said its commitment to defend the Philippines is “ironclad.”

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including waters within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ) called West Philippine Sea.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims in the South China Sea, where $5 trillion in global trade passes every year and where islets, reefs and atolls are believed to be sitting atop vast energy reserves.

Union Banks is a large drowned atoll located 230 km west of Palawan, well within the Philippines’ EEZ.

According to a television report last week, the incident happened on April 9 near Gavin Reef (international name: Gaven Reef), one of the reefs in Union Banks claimed by the Philippines but occupied and had been built on by China.

Alejano traveled to Mariveles in Bataan province on Saturday to look for the fishermen and their boat, the Princess Johanna. He found them in Sisiman village, Mariveles, and they told him that a big gray ship watched as a gray speedboat came at them firing warning shots.

Alejano showed the fishermen photographs of Chinese Navy ships and the People’s Liberation Army uniform, and they told him both resembled what they had seen at Union Banks.

Orlan Dumat, 28, one of the fishermen, said seven Chinese men in gray uniforms came in a speedboat and turned back his group by firing shots in the air.

Frightened, the fishermen cut the anchor, instead of hauling it in, and ran for it.The speedboat gave chase, firing. The fishermen noticed that shots were fired near their boat’s outriggers.

Dumat said one of the outriggers was hit but no one on the boat was hurt.

“As we sailed away, the Chinese boat continued to tail us,” he said.

How the story got out

The fishermen returned to Mariveles and kept the incident to themselves, but a member of the boat owners’ association in the village told the story to a local journalist.

When their story finally reached the government’s attention, Philippine Coast Guard officers went to Mariveles to investigate, but chided the fishermen for telling their story to the press first before reporting what happened to the authorities.

The Mariveles fishermen’s experience was probably the first incident that appeared to involve the Chinese Navy. All previous incidents in the West Philippine Sea involved the Chinese Coast Guard.

Alejano last week urged the government to file a strong protest against China over the incident.

Gen. Eduardo Año, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told reporters that the incident was under investigation.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was still verifying the incident.

The Princess Johanna left Mariveles on March 25 with a crew of 25 and arrived at Union Banks on April 9.

The fishermen told Alejano that they go to Union Banks every year or whenever fish in their traditional fishing grounds in the Spratlys, among them Rizal Reef (Commodore Reef), were scarce.

They said they noticed concrete structures at Union Banks that were not there last year.

The fishermen were probably referring to the structures on the artificial islands built by China on three reefs in Union Banks, all claimed by the Philippines—Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef), Gavin Reef and McKennan Reef (Hughes Reef).

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China has expressed alarm over the visit of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año to Pag-Asa Island last Friday, saying it ran counter to an “important consensus” reached between the leaders of the two countries.  Photo: Lu Kang, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. File Photo 
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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:

China to probe alleged harassment of Filipino fishermen

April 22, 2017

Fishermen said they were driven off by shooting. Chinese Coast Guard said they fired warning shots….

Image may contain: cloud, sky, ocean, nature, outdoor and water

South China Sea (Xinhua – MANILA BULLETIN)

 (philstar.com) |

BEIJING (Philippines News Agency) – China will also look into reports that Filipino fishermen have been driven away allegedly by the Chinese Coast Guard from Union Bank in the South China Sea, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Friday.

“I honestly do not know anything about what you said. You yourself mentioned that the vessels are unidentified, and all sides are in the process of verifying the situation. China also needs to check on that,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said during a press conference.

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China was alarmed, angered by Philippine government, military visit to Pag-asa Island in the South China Sea. File photo. Peace and Freedom screengrab

The Philippines’ foreign affairs and national defense departments are still confirming media reports on the harassment of the Filipino fishermen.

Lu said China will continue to work with the Philippine side to “properly” resolve the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea maritime and territorial dispute under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Our position on the South China Sea issue is consistent and clear. We would go on working with the Philippine side to properly deal with relevant maritime issues and create favorable conditions for the sound and steady development of bilateral relations,” he said.

He reiterated that the bilateral relations between the Philippines and China have turned around and started to improve quickly “with all-around cooperation moving forward steadily”.

Five months after his election, Duterte visited China in October last year at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Duterte is scheduled to return to Beijing next month to participate in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

“Overall, both sides are able to build upon the consensus of the two leaders and manage maritime issues through negotiations and coordination,” Lu said.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/22/1692803/china-probe-alleged-harassment-filipino-fishermen

Related:

 (Contains links to related articles)

Philippines: Chinese Coast Guard stationed in Scarborough to administer fishing activities (Chinese strategy is “Talk and Take”)

April 11, 2017

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FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Renato Etac

via AP

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that the country’s Coast Guard vessels are stationed in waters near Scarborough Shoal to administer fishing activities.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that the Philippines and China made arrangements for fishing activities in the area.

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 Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry — more reliable than Malacañang

“Last year, based on the friendliness between China and the Philippines, China made proper arrangement for fishing activities by Philippine fishermen in the relevant part of waters near Huangyan Dao,” Hua said in a press briefing Monday.

Reuters earlier reported that a small Philippine fishing crew is being allowed to fish in the area by the Chinese Coast Guard.

Chinese Coast Guard vessels are also present in the area to preserve peace, tranquility and order, the spokesperson said.

Asked about the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte that he would not place weapons on Philippines-controlled islets in the South China Sea, Hua stressed that China’s position on the issue has been clear and consistent.

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President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua. Photo by EPA

“We are firm in upholding our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea,” Hua said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterated that Beijing is committed to settling disputes peacefully through negotiation and consultations with countries directly involved, including the Philippines.

China is also committed to working with ASEAN countries to preserve peace and stability in the region, Hua said.

“China has maintained close and effective communication with the Philippines on relevant issues. We hope that the Philippines can work with us to continue to properly handle differences and create favorable atmosphere for the sound and steady growth of bilateral relations,” the spokesperson said.

Duterte earlier ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to occupy the country’s controlled islets and land features in the South China Sea.

The president, however, clarified that there are no new weapons being eyed for the islets as the Philippine military seeks to exercise greater control.

“We are just there to claim the island for us because that is really ours and I have ordered the AFP to build structures there to signify, atin ito,” Duterte said before departing for Saudi Arabia.

RELATED: AFP: Philippines to upgrade island facilities, not launch land grab

The president made the order for the military to occupy South China Sea following reports that China is nearly finished with its construction of military facilities on three islands in the Spratly Group.

http://www.france24.com/en/20170411-lebanon-army-order-evicts-3000-syria-refugees-camps

Related:

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A Vietnamese fishing boat was reportedly ambushed and looted by a China Coast Guard vessel off Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago. Here the fisher make a reort to Vietnamese police, March 2016.

See article:

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  (November 24, 2015)

 (December 28, 2015)

 (Also called “Talk and Take”)

Chinese J-11 Fighters Deployed To Woody Island In South China Sea

China posted pictures of an armed J-11 Flanker fighter

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 (Philippine Star)

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Related:

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

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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.

FILE – In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. The Philippines’ top diplomat says China remains opposed to a legally-binding code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea even as negotiations have progressed on other elements of such a code. Acting Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said Tuesday, April 4, 2017, talks between China and Southeast Asian countries on the code’s framework have made headway but have not yet touched on whether the code will be legally-binding – as the Philippines and its neighbors want. Liu Rui/Xinhua via AP, File