Posts Tagged ‘Panatag Shoal’

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.
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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: 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.

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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

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 — 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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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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South China Sea: Philippines and China Prepare For Direct Bilateral Talks

March 29, 2017

China has invited officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for a visit to start discussions on a bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense via AP

MANILA, Philippines –  The Philippines and China will hold direct talks on their maritime dispute in May, Filipino officials said yesterday, as President Duterte seeks stronger economic ties with Beijing.

China has invited officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for a visit to start discussions on a bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The DFA yesterday confirmed China is proposing to hold and host the bilateral consultation meeting with the Philippines in May.

“This is a new proposal, a bilateral consultation mechanism specifically on the South China Sea,” foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the Philippines and China agreed during the 20th round of Sino-Philippine diplomatic consultation last January to establish a bilateral mechanism on the South China Sea issue.

The two foreign ministries will act as coordinators to discuss issues of mutual concern and promote maritime cooperation and security.

“The Chinese side has invited competent officials of the Philippine foreign ministry to visit China in May for the first meeting of this mechanism,” Hua said in a press conference in Beijing.

“The two sides are having friendly consultations on the specifics of relevant matters,” she said.

Hua said Beijing is willing to further strengthen communication and dialogue with Manila to properly manage differences, enhance maritime cooperation and create a favorable atmosphere for practical cooperation between the two sides and the healthy and steady growth of Sino-Philippine relations.

Last year, a United Nations-backed international tribunal rejected Beijing’s claims to most of the South China Sea, including disputed areas close to the coasts of its neighbors.

But Duterte, elected last year, has played down that ruling and pushed for rapprochement with China as he seeks billions of dollars in trade and investment from it.

DFA’s Jose said both sides are looking at May for the first meeting.

“There was the agreement of bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea and China offered to host the initial meeting. This May, both sides will discuss the specific dates and the agenda,” Jose said.

He noted the purpose of the bilateral consultation mechanism is to provide a platform to discuss South China Sea issues.

“We have no agreement yet on the substantive agenda as well as the level of the meeting. All of these are yet to be discussed,” he said.

The Philippines sent last week a note verbale to China to seek clarification on its plans to build the first permanent structure on Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal.

The top official in Sansha City that administers China’s island claims since 2012 was quoted by the official Hainan Daily as saying that preparations were underway to build an environmental monitoring station at Panatag Shoal.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the Philippines was preparing to formally protest China’s plan to install a radar station at Panatag in violation of the UN tribunal ruling declaring the shoal a common fishing ground outside any country’s jurisdiction.

He said the course of action was in accordance with Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s suggestion that a strong formal protest against Beijing be filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague.

In September, China insisted the situation in Panatag Shoal had not changed and maintained the presence of a number of coast guard vessels was for law enforcement patrols.

Beijing denied there was dredging or building activities conducted in the atoll.

The Philippine government released surveillance pictures of Chinese coast guard ships and barges at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.

Under threat

Security officials also pointed out two of the nine islands occupied by the Philippines in the Spratlys archipelago are now under direct threat from China’s ongoing militarization of their occupied areas in the region.

These two military outposts are in Pag-Asa Island and the Ayungin Shoal outpost, where Filipino soldiers are currently stationed aboard a grounded ship BRP Sierra Madre.

“These two areas are very close to the now Chinese highly militarized artificial islands out of Zamora (Subi) Reef and Panganiban (Mischief) Reef,” a senior security official said.

The official said the highly militarized Zamora and Panganiban Reefs could choke Pag-Asa and Ayungin Shoal.

Zamora Reef is located 14 nautical miles from Pag-Asa Island, Palawan’s fifth class municipality, which is also home to a contingent of Filipino soldiers.

Ayungin Shoal, on the other hand, is located 22 nautical miles from the Chinese-built artificial island in Panganiban Reef.

The Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said

China has already put up three radar/senior arrays, two hangars, a mobile missile shelter and four point defenses in their occupied areas.

The CSIS’s Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) reported China has completed early this month the construction of hangars that can accommodate 24 combat aircraft. The artificial island has a 3,000-meter runway and safe harbor.

“Construction teams were putting the finishing touches on five larger hangars. A finished radar tower stands in the middle of the reef and a trio of large towers have been constructed on the southwestern corner,” the AMTI said.

AMTI also reported recent monitoring on the placement of a radar dome on the ground next to one of the towers, indicating this construction is similar to what China has built at Kagitingan (Johnson South) Reef.

Retractable roofs are also being installed on the recently built missile shelters at Panganiban Reef, AMTI reported.

Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense (DND) is working out a deal with Japan for the transfer of spare parts needed by the Philippine Air Force to keep its fleet of UH-1H combat and utility helicopters up in the air.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said talks are now underway with Japan’s Minister of Defense Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) regarding the Huey spare parts transfer to PAF.

Japan used to be a big user of UH-1H helicopters and has huge spare parts inventory for the Vietnam-vintage rotary aircraft.

Lorenzana made this disclosure following last Monday’s transfer of two of the five TC-90 surveillance aircraft that the Japanese government has leased to the Philippine government to bolster the Navy’s air maritime and sovereignty monitoring capabilities.

A TC-90 King Air of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). Photo courtesy of the JMSDF website.

A TC-90 King Air of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). Photo courtesy of the JMSDF website.

The Navy will be using the two aircraft provided by Japan to patrol the country’s maritime domain in the South China Sea and Benham Rise in the eastern seaboard facing the Pacific Ocean.  – With   Jaime Laude

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/03/30/1685930/phl-china-hold-direct-talks-scs

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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.

Philippines Prepares Protest vs China Over South China Sea Island Grab

March 21, 2017
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the administration’s planned course of action was in accordance with Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s suggestion that a strong formal protest against Beijing be filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is preparing to formally protest China’s plan to install a radar station at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in violation of a ruling by a United Nations-backed international tribunal declaring the shoal a common fishing ground outside any country’s jurisdiction.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the administration’s planned course of action was in accordance with Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s suggestion that a strong formal protest against Beijing be filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague.

“I think so, there will be (a protest to be filed). Medyo malakas-lakas ang ifa-file (A stronger one will be filed),” Aguirre said when asked about the issue in a chance interview.

Aguirre’s statement came on the heels of President Duterte’s voicing helplessness against China’s continued buildup of its forces in waters within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

But Aguirre assured the public that Duterte is committed to protect and defend the nation’s sovereignty despite the latter’s pronouncement that he could not stop China from building a structure at the shoal. “Definitely, he will not let go of (Panatag shoal),” Aguirre stressed.

“As a matter of fact, we are strengthening the relationship with the US,” Aguirre pointed out, indicating a potential shift from Duterte’s earlier declaration of separation from the US and a pivot to China.

The filing of a protest was among the five-point strategy suggested by Carpio for dealing with China’s reported plan to set up facilities at Panatag shoal.

The SC justice has also suggested sending Philippine Navy vessels to the shoal.

“If the Chinese attack Philippine Navy vessels, then invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty which covers any armed attack on Philippine Navy vessels operating in the South China Sea,” he pointed out.

Carpio also stressed the government may ask the US to declare the shoal part of Philippine territory and accept the superpower’s offer to hold joint patrols in the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea.

The SC magistrate also advised Duterte to “avoid any act, statement or declaration that expressly or impliedly waives Philippine sovereignty to any Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.”

Carpio stressed that Panatag is part of the national territory under Republic Act No. 9522 (Philippine Baselines Law) and that President Duterte has the constitutional duty to defend it from China’s incursion.

He earlier warned that the installation of a radar system at the Panatag shoal will complete China’s air defense identification zone in the South China Sea.

In 2012, the Chinese seized the Panatag Shoal after a tense standoff with Philippine Navy personnel who had tried to arrest Chinese poachers in the area. The poachers were allowed to return to China with their illegal harvest of baby sharks, endangered corals and giant clams. The Chinese have never left the shoal since then.

A ruling in July last year by the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague upheld the Philippines’ entitlements in the West Philippine Sea but declared Panatag a common fishing ground. The shoal is only about 230 kilometers from the nearest coast in Luzon and close to 2,700 kilometers from China’s nearest coast in Hainan.

Defending sovereignty

At Malacañang, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella made it clear Duterte has not surrendered the country’s sovereignty over Panatag Shoal or any other area within the country’s EEZ either seized or being coveted by China.

“He has said time and again that he will defend and protect the interests of the Filipino people and will take necessary action at a time most fitting and advantageous to us,” Abella said.

“Furthermore, PRRD has repeatedly asserted that RP is not giving up its claims and our entitlements over the area,” Abella said, referring to Duterte by his presidential initials.

He noted even China has not issued an official stand on reports it was preparing to build a radar station at Panatag Shoal. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), he said, is verifying such reports.

“The DFA is in the process of verifying alleged announcements of proposals to build structures in WPS (West Philippine Sea), since these statements do not reflect the official position of China,” he said.

Duterte earlier declared that the Philippines – with its weak armed forces – cannot stop Beijing from building a radar station at Panatag Shoal.

This prompted Carpio to remind Duterte of his constitutional duty to defend the country from Chinese incursion.

Panatag is part of the national territory, Carpio pointed out, as stipulated under the Philippine Baselines Law.

In his speech in Myanmar Monday, Duterte again ruled out invoking the UN arbitration ruling when dealing with Beijing. But he also vowed to raise the matter if and when China starts extracting mineral resources like oil or uranium in disputed areas.

“Now, if China starts getting oil or uranium or whatever that’s inside the bowels of the sea, I will do something and tell them, ‘We own it. You claim it by historical right, by judgment I won and it’s mine,’” he said.

Duterte also stressed he would not send forces to confront the Chinese in disputed areas to avoid bloodshed.

“First hour, they are finished already. We are not in a position to declare war,” he said.

“But I said to China that someday during my term as President, I will have to confront you about the arbitral ruling and that would be maybe, during the time when you begin to extract minerals and the riches of what is inside the bowels of the earth,” Duterte added.

Not defenseless

Meanwhile, the lawmaker who filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte has asked the President not to portray the country as defenseless against China’s maritime incursion.

“His statement that we cannot do anything is not true. In fact, we have a lot of non-military and non-confrontational options. He just doesn’t want to do them,” Rep. Gary Alejano of party-list group Magdalo said.

During the campaign, then candidate Duterte said if the Chinese intruded into Panatag, he would rush there in a jet ski to confront the intruders.

Alejano has described as “treason” the President’s admission that he had allowed a Chinese research ship to survey Benham Rise, which is part of the country’s territory.

He said Duterte’s statement on China’s building plan at Panatag Shoal “is a defeatist narrative fitting squarely to what China wants us to feel.”

The lawmaker advised the President to listen to Carpio and revisit various recommendations proposed in the past by national leaders and security officials to address Chinese intrusions into Philippine waters.

“He can consult his national security team and other leaders,” he added.

Alejano lamented the Duterte administration is speaking with discordant voices in dealing with China.

He noted that while Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has denounced the presence of China’s research ship in Benham Rise, the President admitted he had allowed it without informing his defense chief.

Alejano urged the President to send the Coast Guard or even the Navy to patrol the Panatag Shoal area.

“The shoal is located 230 kilometers from Luzon, while it is 2,659 kilometers away from the Chinese mainland. Logistically, the replenishing of supplies such as food and fuel will be a challenge for China, not so for our troops since it is closer to our shores,” he said.

“We can strategically deploy and train our fishermen to utilize the natural resources in the area. We could provide them with study vessels and advanced communication system so that we could aid or defend them should they be threatened by Chinese ships,” he said.

He said Duterte should learn a lesson or two from Vietnam in protecting the country’s interest.

Alejano recalled that in one confrontation with China near the disputed Paracels, Vietnam lost several troops.

The former Marine captain said the country could also invoke its security alliance with the United States, Japan and Australia.

In case of a shooting war, he said he would be “more than willing to fight for our country.”

The military, for its part, said it is ready to deploy a navy ship – recently acquired from the US – to conduct oceanographic survey of Benham Rise.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office chief, said they are just awaiting a written order from Lorenzana or from the President for the deployment of BRP Gregorio Velasquez (AGR-702) to Benham Rise.

“We have one survey vessel and the Philippine Navy has the capability to do maritime research, but so far we don’t have the instructions,” Arevalo said. The other survey vessel acquired from the US was BRP Andres Bonifacio.  – With Christina Mendez, Jaime Laude

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/03/22/1683442/philippines-prepares-protest-vs-china-over-panatag

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 (Contains links to several previos 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.

Rodrigo Duterte And Kim Jong-un Save Peace In South China Sea, But For How Much Longer?

March 21, 2017

I cover global markets, business and investment strategy

Duterte said. Photographer: Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s flip-flops and North Korea’s leader Kim Jongun’s missile tests have saved South China Sea peace, for now, as both major players in the disputes China and the US have been softening their tone lately.

That’s good news for investors in the equities of the region, as it lowers geopolitical risks. And that may sound paradoxical to some. How is it that Duterte’s flip-flops and Kim Jong-un’s missile firings can advance peace in South China Sea?

By changing the parameters of the game for China and the US.

ETF/Fund 3-month Performance (%) 12-month Performance (%)
iShares MSCI iShares China  (FXI) 4.58 17.64
VanEck Vectors Vietnam ETF (VNM) 9.34 -2.81
iShares MSCI Philippines (EPHE) -7.28 -5.14
iShares MSCI Emerging Markets 14.08 17.47

Source: Finance.yahoo.com  3/20/2017

Last July Philippines and its close ally, the U.S., won an international arbitration ruling that China has no historic title over the waters of the South China Sea. Yet Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte shocked the global community and financial markets by siding with China on the dispute, and seeking a “divorce” from the U.S. Duterte’s flip-flop left the US without a key ally to advance its cause in South China Sea, and therefore, no choice but to soften its tone.

Never mind that China continues its activities around the Scarborough Shoal. “So what do you want me to do? Declare war against China?” Duterte quoted in Chinatopix asking reporters. “I can but we’ll lose all our military and policemen tomorrow, and we are a destroyed nation. And we cannot assert even a single sentence of any provision that we signed.”  

Then came Kim Jongun’s missile tests to change America’s foreign policy priorities placing the Korean Peninsula and the containment of North Korea ahead of South China Sea; and China can make the difference as to whether America achieves this objective. This means that Washington must appease rather than antagonize Beijing at this point.

While Duterte’s flip flops and Kim Jongun’s missile tests have saved peace for the time being, it’s hard to see how they will save peace in the future, as both leaders are unpredictable.  

That’s why investors should constantly keep an eye on the geopolitical risks in the South China Sea region markets.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2017/03/20/rodrigo-duterte-and-kim-jong-un-save-peace-in-south-china-sea-for-now/#7dce8fbefe32

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