Posts Tagged ‘Panatag Shoal’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

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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

Related:

 (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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Philippines: Supreme Court Judge says the President is constitutionally mandated to defend the national territory — As China lurks in the West Philippine Sea

March 20, 2017
By: – Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 12:20 AM March 21, 2017
Supreme court Snr. Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Supreme court Snr. Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (CDN FILE PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

President Duterte should file a strong protest to block China’s plan to build on Panatag Shoal, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Monday.

Carpio, a member of the legal team that successfully argued the Philippines’ challenge to China’s claim to nearly all of the South China Sea before the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague last year, offered an unsolicited advice to Mr. Duterte after the President said he could not stop Beijing from building permanent structures on Panatag Shoal.

Carpio said the President had at least five options in dealing with China’s provocative actions and incursions into Philippine territory in the South China Sea.

As Commander in Chief of the military, the President is constitutionally mandated to defend the national territory, Carpio said.

“Under RA (Republic Act) No. 9522, Scarborough Shoal is part of [the] Philippine national territory,” he said, referring to the law enacted by Congress in 2008 that established the country’s archipelagic baseline.

The same law declared Panatag Shoal and the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the Spratlys group parts of the Philippines’ territory as defined under Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Panatag Shoal, internationally known as Scarborough Shoal, is a rich fishing ground located 230 kilometers west of the coast of Zambales province, well within the 370-km exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines known as the West Philippine Sea.

Monitoring station

Xiao Jie, the top Communist Party official in Sansha City that has administered China’s South China Sea claims since 2012, was quoted in the official Hainan Daily on Friday as saying that preparations were under way to build an environmental monitoring station on Panatag Shoal.

The preparatory work on the station and others on five other islands in the South China Sea is among the top priorities of China for 2017, Xiao said.

On Sunday, Mr. Duterte said he could not stop China from building on Panatag Shoal because it was too powerful. “We cannot stop China from doing [these] things,” he told a news conference in Davao City before leaving for Burma (Myanmar).

“What do you want me to do, declare war against China? I can’t. We will lose all our military and policemen tomorrow and we [will be] a destroyed nation,” he said.

Strong protest

“Any statement that the Philippines cannot stop China from building on Scarborough Shoal actually encourages China to build on Scarborough Shoal,” Carpio warned.

He said “the least” Mr. Duterte could do was to lodge a “strong formal protest” against Beijing’s planned construction of an environmental monitoring station on Panatag.

He said Vietnam protested after a Chinese-registered private cruise ship set sail for the Paracels, a group of islands claimed by Hanoi that China, Vietnam and Taiwan also claim as their own.

Carpio said Mr. Duterte could also deploy a Philippine Navy ship to patrol Panatag Shoal and solicit the help of the United States, the Philippines’ oldest military ally, to generate military muscle.

“If the Chinese attack Philippine Navy vessels, then invoke the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), which covers any armed attack on Philippine Navy vessels operating in the South China Sea,” Carpio said.

Regarded as the “mother” of all military deals between the two countries, the August 1951 agreement stipulates that “an armed attack on either of the parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific Ocean, its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”

Carpio said the Philippines may follow the lead of Japan and ask the United States to recognize Panatag Shoal as “part of Philippine territory for purposes” of invoking the MDT.

He pointed out that Tokyo had asked the United States to declare the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea “as part of Japanese territory for purposes of the US-Japan mutual defense treaty.”

“[Panatag Shoal] has been part of Philippine territory even during the American colonial period,” Carpio said.

Mr. Duterte, he said, may opt to consider the Americans’ invitation for the United States and the Philippines to conduct joint naval patrols in the South China Sea.

“This will demonstrate joint Philippine and US determination to prevent China from building on Scarborough Shoal,” Carpio said.

Carpio said Mr. Duterte should “avoid any act, statement or declaration that expressly or impliedly waives Philippine sovereignty to any Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.”

“This will preserve for future generations of Filipinos their national patrimony in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.

Mr. Duterte, however, is unlikely to take the US option, having adopted an “independent foreign policy” to steer the Philippines away from US influence and called then US President Barack Obama a “son of a bitch” for criticizing his brutal war on drugs.

He has also scaled back military cooperation between the Philippines and the United States and threatened to scrap the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement that allows US forces increased access to Philippine military bases.

Carpio had earlier warned that China’s reported construction project on Panatag Shoal was a prelude to its plan to limit air travel in the region by declaring an air defense identification zone.

“These developments call for a national debate, and consensus, on how the nation should proceed with its bilateral relations with China,” he said.

The Hague ruling

China seized Panatag Shoal after a two-month standoff with Philippine vessels in 2012, but The Hague court declared in July last year that China’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea had no legal basis and that it had violated the Philippines’ sovereignty and right to explore for resources in waters within its EEZ.

China rejected the ruling, insisting that it had “undisputed sovereignty” over the South China Sea but offered to settle rival claims through bilateral negotiations.

Besides China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan claim parts of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in global trade passes every year and where islets, reefs and atolls are believed to be sitting atop vast energy reserves.

Mr. Duterte, a self-styled socialist, upended Philippine foreign policy after winning presidential election last year by deferring assertion of The Hague ruling and making friendly overtures to China and Russia and distancing himself from the United States. —WITH REPORTS FROM AFP AND AP

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

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

Philippine President Duterte Seeking Allies For At Sea Code of Conduct

March 20, 2017
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Duterte is welcomed by his Myanmar counterpart U Htin Kyaw at the Presidential Palace in the capital Naypyitaw yesterday. Duterte flew to Bangkok, Thailand last night. AP

MANILA, Philippines – In a bid to avoid tension in disputed areas in the South China Sea, President Duterte called for support for the approval of a Code of Conduct (COC) among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“It’s very important for China and the rest of the nations, especially the ASEAN, to come up with a Code of Conduct,” Duterte said in a press briefing in Myanmar on Sunday night.

The President also pitched for the COC while he was in Myanmar, which was part of the last leg of his introductory tour of Southeast Asia in the run-up to the ASEAN summit this November in Manila.

The Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) was signed by all members of ASEAN and China on Nov. 4, 2002. It lists the principles of self-restraint and non-militarization.

Duterte said he would invoke the arbitral ruling favoring Philippine claims if China starts gathering mineral resources from the disputed areas.

“Kung ang China kukuha na sila ng mga oil o uranium (If China starts getting oil or uranium) or whatever that’s inside the bowels of the sea, kalabitin ko sila (I will do something). Ako man rin ang may-ari niyan (We own it). You claim it by historical right, but by judgment I won and it’s mine,” he said.

But Duterte again admitted that the Philippines cannot stop China from building a radar station at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal because the Philippine military is no match for Chinese armed forces. And he cannot allow Filipino soldiers to go to disputed areas to avoid casualties.

“First hour pa lang ubos na ‘yun (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,” he added.

Duterte also claimed that the United States is also “scared” of China.

“Hindi nga natin mapigilan kasi hindi natin kaya ang China. Hindi nga mapigilan ng Amerikano. In the first place, sa umpisa pa lang niyan, hindi na pumunta ang Amerikano, natakot na (We cannot stop China. Even the Americans cannot stop it. In the first place, from the start America did not respond, they got scared right away),” he said.

He noted that what the Philippines has right now are only entitlements.

“Just entitlement, not territory. I said repeatedly it is not within our territorial waters. But what we are trying to achieve is that we are also recognized to own the entitlements,” he said.

“The structures have nothing to do with the economic zone. It might impede but actually it’s a construction that would disturb the navigation of the sea,” he added.

Despite China’s excessive claims, Duterte said he is working to further bolster economic and trade ties between Manila and Beijing.

Defend Panatag

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reminded Duterte that he has the constitutional duty to defend Panatag Shoal from Chinese incursion.

Carpio also formulated a five-point strategy on how the Duterte administration can respond to China’s reported plan to install a radar station in the disputed shoal.

The magistrate explained that Panatag is part of the national territory under Republic Act No. 9522 or Philippine Baselines Law and should be defended to “preserve for future generations of Filipinos their national patrimony in the West Philippine Sea.”

But he stressed that since the Philippines cannot match the military power of China, Duterte may opt for other actions to defend the country’s sovereignty over the shoal and fulfill his duty as president.

First, Carpio suggested that the government should file a strong formal protest against the Chinese building activity before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague.

“This is what the Vietnamese did recently when China sent cruise tours to the disputed Paracels,” he added.

The PCA ruled that Panatag Shoal is a “common fishing ground” of fishermen not only from the Philippines but also from China and other neighboring countries and nullified China’s nine-dash line claim over South China Sea. The justice said the government could also send the Philippine Navy to patrol 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 suggested.

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Philippines: Supreme Court Associate Justice reminds President Rodrigo Duterte to avoid waiving Philippine sovereignty to any Philippine territory

March 20, 2017
By: – Reporter / @T2TupasINQ
/ 12:51 PM March 20, 2017
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Image may contain: ocean, sky, cloud, outdoor, water and nature
A Filipino fishing vessel ventures into the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. —REM ZAMORA

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reminded President Rodrigo Duterte to avoid any statement or declaration that expressly or impliedly waives Philippine sovereignty to any Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.

“This will preserve for future generations of Filipinos their natural patrimony in the West Philippine Sea,” Carpio said.

Carpio’s statement came after Duterte said he cannot stop China from implementing its plan to build structures on the disputed Panatag Shoal for now.

In 2012, China seized Panatag Shoal or the Scarborough Shoal after a tense standoff between Chinese and Filipino vessels. China denied Filipino fishermen access to Scarborough’s rich fish stock.

Filipinos have been able to go back to Scarborough after Duterte reached out to Beijing and restored good diplomatic ties, which were damaged when President Benigno Aquino III tried to forcefully enforce Philippine authority on the shoal.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Panatag Shoal is a “common fishing ground” of fishermen not only from the Philippines but also from China and other neighboring countries.

Duterte said if the US was not able to stop China, what could the Philippines do?

Carpio said Duterte was the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces which is tasked by the Constitution to defend the country’s territory.

He pointed out that under Republic Act 9522 or the Philippines’ Baseline Law, Scarborough Shoal is part of the Philippine territory.

Carpio said since the Philippines was no match to China militarily, the President could fulfill his constitutional duty by doing any, some or all of the following:

  • File a strong formal protest against the Chinese building activity.

“This is the least that the President should do,” Carpio said.

Carpio said that is what the Vietnamese did recently when China sent cruise tours to the disputed Paracels.

  • Send the Philippine Navy to patrol Scarborough Shoal.

Carpio said if the Chinese attack the Philippine navy vessels, the country can invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty which covers any armed attack on Philippine Navy vessels operating in the South China Sea.

  • Ask the United States to declare that Scarborough Shoal is part of Philippine territory for purposes of the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty since the shoal has been part of  Philippine territory even during the American colonial period.

The high court’s Senior magistrate and an expert in the maritime dispute with China said “the US has declared the Senkakus as part of Japanese territory for purposes of the US-Japan mutual defense treaty.”

  • Accept the standing US offer to hold joint naval patrols in the South China Sea, which includes Scarborough Shoal.

Carpio said “this will demonstrate joint Philippine and US demonstration to prevent China from building on Scarborough Shoal.”

Aquino earlier tried to use the Navy to assert the rights of the Philippines over Scarborough, but China responded by sending more of its ships to the shoal.

China also began building artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea, which is reportedly already being militarized by Beijing.

The US has conducted patrols and freedom of navigation exercises in the West Philippine Sea but has not stopped China from reportedly arming its artificial islands. CBB/rga

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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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