Posts Tagged ‘sovereign rights’

South China Sea: Time for a different Philippine narrative on maritime dispute with China

July 7, 2018

Since the stunning victory over China in 2016, the official story has been defeatist

Soon, it will be two years since the Philippines overwhelmingly won in its maritime dispute against China. But during this time, the official narrative in the Philippines has been one with strong defeatist tones.

By Marites Dañguilan Vitug


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From Day 1, July 12, 2016, when the international arbitral tribunal issued its decision invalidating China’s 9-dash line and clarifying the status of certain features in the South China Sea, this ruling has never been given the national attention it deserved. It has not been used as leverage in the country’s dealings with China. It has not been in the Department of Foreign Affairs’ talking points.

It has not been part of the country’s diplomatic arsenal.

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Yes, we won, officials say, but…

  • China is our source of economic deliverance. China will rebuild war-torn Marawi. China will invest heavily in the government’s “Build, Build, Build”
    program. Millions of Chinese tourists will boost our tourism industry. China is our new source of weapons.
  • China is a dear friend who, unlike the European Union, is nonchalant about the deadly drug war that has killed thousands and has led to a crushing wave of impunity.

These buts drown out the gains of July 12, 2016, weakening the Philippine position, making our country’s voice part of the chorus of approval of China in the region.

Let us not be taken by the official story. It’s time to talk about a different narrative.

Let’s go back to the story of Philippines vs. China, the historic arbitration case that reverberated in various parts of the world. As a law professor from the University of Geneva said, “July 12, 2016 is a date that will remain etched in the history of international adjudication.”

Let’s go back to the almost two decades of back-and-forth with Beijing when our diplomats asserted Philippine rights over parts of the South China Sea – only to be rebuffed with its stock response that China had “indisputable sovereignty” over this vast area.

Let’s hear from our scholars, experts, and diplomats on how to make use of our legal victory and start a national conversation on this crucial issue.

Historic case

In my new book, Rock Solid: How the Philippines won its maritime case against China, I tell the story of this victory that gave the country so much – a maritime area larger than the total land area of the Philippines, rich in resources – but has since been disregarded by the government.

First of all, the case is historic. It is the first to interpret the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) definitions of rocks, islands, and low-tide elevations; the first case to be filed by a South China Sea claimant state against China; and it is the first case to address the scope and application of the Unclos provision on protection and preservation of the environment.

This book addresses why President Benigno Aquino III took China to Court. Among others, he particularly remembered the quip of one ASEAN senior leader: “There are big countries and there are small countries. That’s the way of the world.” He mulled over this and thought that it was precisely the law that would serve as the great equalizer.

With this as anchor – the law as the great equalizer – Aquino decided, with the approval of the Cabinet, the leaders of Congress and two past presidents, to sue China.

In January 2013, the Philippines began its legal battle. It filed a “notification of statement and claim.”

More than year later, the Philippines submitted its memorial, like a plea, which reached more than 3,000 pages. It was a product of massive research in history, international law, geology, hydrography, marine biodiversity, and cartography. This included 10 volumes of annexes, which contained maps, nautical charts, expert reports, witnesses’ affidavits, historical records, and official communications.

Almost two decades of written exchanges between the Philippines and China, including notes verbale, were made public. Intelligence reports of the Navy, the Western Command of the Armed Forces, and the Department of National Defense were also submitted to the tribunal.

This was a first in the country: that diplomatic cables and intelligence documents were revealed to the public, a fascinating trove of our diplomatic history.

The Philippine story also unfolds in the transcripts of the oral hearings in The Hague which capture the essential points of the case. Paul Reichler and his team at Foley Hoag used the richly-documented diplomatic history of the Philippines-China dispute in their arguments before the tribunal.

These transcripts, the Philippine memorial, the awards (or the tribunal’s decisions) on jurisdiction and merit are accessible reading to non-lawyers like me. They can be downloaded from the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

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Despite the stunning victory, why was the Philippines so glum about a historic ruling that was on its side? Why did it choose to bury a euphoric moment instead of using the victory to galvanize a nation?

The answer lay in the country’s new president, Rodrigo Duterte. He held a different view: his heart and mind were with China.

The Duterte government has taken a defeatist stance despite the immensity of what the Philippines had gained from the ruling. Duterte once said that the Philippines was “helpless” in the face of China’s might. For him, the choices in dealing with China were extreme, either to talk or to go to war. He has framed foreign policy in a false dichotomy.

While the story of Philippines vs. China offers hope and inspiration, it is the aftermath that offers more challenges. Rock Solid gives a few prescriptions on how to make the tribunal’s decision work, but there are definitely more ideas out there worth exploring.

Many have said that international pressure can encourage the implementation of the award – but friendly countries have to take the lead from the Philippines.

In the region, the award benefited not only the Philippines but other Southeast Asian states which have made claims to parts of the South China Sea. It was clear from the ruling, as Reichler explained, that “if China’s nine-dash line is invalid as to the Philippines, it is equally invalid to other states bordering the South China Sea like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, and the rest of the international community.”

Making the tribunal ruling work and seeing it come to fruition, partly or fully, will take a long time, way beyond a single president’s term. It will require strategic thinking anchored on a strong sense of justice, equity, and sovereign rights. –


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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

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Philippines: Draft Federal Constitution Charter Asserts Sovereignty over Philippine Rise

July 3, 2018
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Establishing clear and distinct sovereignty over the country’s territory was among the highlights of the proposed federal Constitution.

The 22-member consultative committee (ConCom) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution has approved the final draft of the proposed Charter, which will be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte.

Patricia Lourdes Viray (

July 3, 2018 – 12:40pm

One noticeable revision in the Article I (National Territory) of the Constitution is the inclusion of the Benham or Philippine Rise in the article.

The Philippine Rise is a 13-million hectare underwater plateau off the coast of Aurora. The region has never been subject to any maritime boundary disputes and claims.

Section 2, Article 1 of the draft federal Constitution states that:

The Philippines has sovereign rights over that maritime expanse beyond its territorial sea to the extend reserved to it by international law, as well as over its extended continental shelf, including the Philippine Rise. Its citizens shall enjoy the right to all resources within these areas.

The draft Constitution also asserts the Philippines’ sovereignty over territories belonging to the country through historic right.

Section 1, Article 1 of the draft Charter states:

The Philippines has sovereignty over its territory, consisting of the islands ans waters encompassed by its archipelagic baselines, its territorial sea, the seabed, the subsoil, the continental shelf, and its airspace. It has sovereignty over islands and features outside its archipelagic baselines pursuant to the laws of the Federal Republic, the law of nations and the judgments of competent international courts or tribunals. It likewise has sovereignty over other territories belonging to the Philippines by historic right or legal title.

In 2012, the United Nations on the Limits of the Continental Shelf granted the submission of the Philippines to include Benham Rise as part of its extended continental shelf.

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Chinese coast guard vessels are frequently seen near the Philippines

Earlier this year, Duterte ordered the halt of all marine explorations and studies by foreign scientists in the undersea region to prioritize Filipino scientists conducting research in the region.

The order, however, came after China finished its marine scientific research in the area.

While Duterte barred foreign exploration in Benham Rise, the Philippine lost its bid to reverse the approval of Chinese proposals to name undersea features as Haidongqing Seamount, Jinghao Seamount, Tianbao Seamount, Jujiu Seamounts and Cuiqiao Hill.

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China’s aggression does not diminish sovereign rights of the Philippines

May 26, 2018
 / 05:14 AM May 25, 2018

China keeps on occupying more territories that it claims as its own despite protests from other claimant countries. It continues building manmade islands and turns them into missile bases, even as it causes massive destruction on the environment.

Jamming devices in Fiery Cross Reef on Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea have also been detected; military planes were spotted on Mischief Reef. This is part of China’s strategy to project its supremacy and advance its economic agenda and military designs.

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China wants to take control of the Spratlys and obviously is interested in the Philippine Rise because of their vast economic resources and strategic location. It desires to secure all methane hydrate for its own and make the West Philippine Sea an asylum for its nuclear-armed submarine. China’s government has already declared that the military installations it has built on the islands will be limited to required resistance necessities

The Kagitingan Reef now occupied by China is also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. China’s display of power signals its aggressive designs which the international community has condemned from the day the sea dispute erupted.

Nevertheless, such aggression does not diminish our sovereign rights which the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague categorically acknowledged in July 2016.

The question is, are we allowing China to exploit our natural resources? Are we permitting it to militarize our territories? Our country should be extra concerned with this because such act poses a serious threat to our country as well as to other claimant nations. This particular issue should awaken the spirit of patriotism in every Filipino and unite the nation in asserting our sovereign right to our exclusive economic zone.

The hard part is that we cannot call for war or for a more hard line reaction. China is a global superpower with nuclear warheads and a missile arsenal that could hit the Philippines from the mainland. But if China wants to be respected as a global power, it should abide by the UN-backed arbitral court ruling that invalidated its expansive maritime claims.

We hope China would not threaten peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea nor disrupt other countries in the exercise of their sovereign rights.


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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.



Can The Philippines Ever Have Its Own Foreign Policy Again?

April 20, 2018

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 / 05:36 AM April 20, 2018

To hear Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano talk about Philippine-Chinese relations is to hear the whiny sound of surrender and subservience. In Cayetano’s view, the landmark arbitral tribunal ruling in 2016 that gave the Philippines a sweeping legal victory over China over disputed parts of the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea is not a sign of strength but, rather, a source of weakness.

After all, what does the following statement, from the former senator with a reputation for articulate rhetoric, really mean, but that smoother relations with China are a higher priority than defending Philippine sovereign rights? “As of now, if we compare the Aquino administration strategy and the Duterte strategy, we simply are making do with a bad situation but we have stopped the bleeding.” Only someone who sees the strain in bilateral relations because of the filing and the winning of the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration as more important than the actual legal victory itself would think that the Philippines was in “a bad situation” post-July 12, 2016.

The exact opposite is true: Our side in the dispute with China was never stronger than on the day the arbitral tribunal issued an award that was an almost complete vindication of Philippine claims. Only someone who thinks that pleasing China meets a greater public interest than enforcing the legal victory so painstakingly won at The Hague would say that, today, “we have stopped the bleeding.” There is a term for this, and it is appeasement.

The foreign secretary makes the situation worse, undermines even further the Philippine position regarding its own rights to the West Philippine Sea and its jurisdiction over parts of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, by adopting the Chinese perspective hook, line, and sinker. “Yes, we want to fight for what is ours but we don’t want a war. And no one in our region wants a war because no one will win.” This is the Chinese view, that the only alternative to settling the disputes is through a war. This is simply not true; it is also, essentially, un-Filipino. Which makes us ask: Whose interests does the Honorable Alan Peter Cayetano, secretary of foreign affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, really represent?

There is an alternative to war, and that is the process which the Philippines helped set up: a regime of international law governing maritime and territorial disputes. That is the process  which the Philippines won, despite China’s bullying and its demonization of the international law system. That is the process which allows smaller countries an almost equal footing with the great powers. And that is the process which, unaccountably, this administration’s lawyers shortchange, subvert, sell out.

Consider these words of wisdom from Cayetano: “China has not asked us, and I can tell you this very honestly whether closed door or in open, they have never asked us to give up our claims. They have simply asked us to put some order in how we will discuss these claims and where we should discuss these claims.” He speaks, not as a public servant of the Filipino people, but the servant of the Chinese government.

Assume for the sake of argument that what Cayetano said is in fact the case; why should we follow China’s proposed order in discussing our rights? Indeed, why should our foreign secretary mindlessly repeat the Chinese line that our claims are still in dispute—when the arbitral tribunal has already and convincingly ruled in our favor? (Let Beijing say these are mere claims; Manila should assert them as vindicated rights.) Even more to the point: Why privilege what China wants (“China has not asked us …”)? The real question is: What does the Philippines ask, when it meets with China?

If it’s only money, through expensive loans or dubious investments, then we really should all worry that Beijing has landed military cargo aircraft on Mischief or Panganiban Reef. We are trading our sovereign rights, inch by inch, for the proverbial filthy lucre.

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Greece Says Won’t Tolerate Border Challenges After Turkish Collision

February 15, 2018

Feb. 15, 2018, at 6:06 a.m.

 President Erdogan of Turkey Visits Greece — Shakes hands with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras 7 December 2017 — First Turkish state visit to Greece in 65 years — But it got off to rocky start observers said…

Greece Says Won’t Tolerate Border Challenges After Turkish Collision


By George Georgiopoulos and Renee Maltezou

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece will not tolerate any challenges to its territorial integrity, its prime minister said on Thursday, days after Turkish and Greek coastguard vessels collided close to disputed islets in the Aegean Sea.

Each side blamed the other for Monday’s collision off an islet known as Imia in Greek and Kardak in Turkish. They came to the brink of war in 1996 in a sovereignty dispute over the islets.

Seeking international support, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras underlined that Greece’s border was also that of the 28-nation European Union, and his foreign minister briefed the head of NATO and the U.S. military chief on Turkey’s “provocative behavior”.

“Our message, now, tomorrow and always, is clear … Greece will not allow, accept or tolerate any challenge to its territorial integrity and its sovereign rights,” Tsipras told an audience at the shipping ministry.

“Greece is not a country which plays games.”

Tsipras told coastguard officers: “Challenges and aggressive rhetoric against the sovereign rights of an EU member state are against the EU in its entirety.”

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry denied the Turkish vessel was at fault. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told Tsipras in a phone call on Tuesday that Greece needed to take necessary measures to decrease the tension in the Aegean Sea, a source from Yildirim’s office said.

Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, have long been at odds over issues from ethnically split Cyprus to airspace and overflight rights [L8N1Q33Y6] and relations have worsened since Greece blocked the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers that Ankara accuses of involvement in 2016’s failed coup.

In Brussels, Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said he had briefed U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

“I had the opportunity to show them material of proof that dismisses Turkish claims that (the incident at Imia) was an accident,” Kammenos said in a statement.

“Turkey is provoking and violating Greek and EU waters, it proceeds with acts that violate any notion of maritime law and is coming close to (causing) an ‘accident’ in the Aegean. It has full responsibility.”

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou and George Georgiopoulos; Writing by Michele Kambas; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Text of Hague court ruling affirming Philippines rights over Mischief Reef — Duterte Government “Gave Away” Islands To China

February 8, 2018

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‘Mischief Reef… fall within areas where only the Philippines possesses possible entitlements to maritime zones under the Convention…. Accordingly, the Philippines – and not China – possesses sovereign rights with respect to resources in these areas,’ reads the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in July 2016

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Mischief Reef before any Chinese activity

Published 7:05 PM, February 06, 2018
Updated 7:05 PM, February 06, 2018

2016 PHOTO. Structures seen on a satellite image of Mischief Reef on November 15, 2016, released December 13, 2016. Image courtesy of CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

2016 PHOTO. Structures seen on a satellite image of Mischief Reef on November 15, 2016, released December 13, 2016. Image courtesy of CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

MANILA, Philippines – Panganiban (Mischief) Reef belongs to the Philippines. It is not disputed.

It is one of the 7 maritime features that China reclaimed in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Photos taken last year show China built a runway, two hangars, and two radomes for radar equipment, among other facilities, on the reef.

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The United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in July 2016 that the Philippines has sovereign rights over Mischief Reef.

It is a “low tide elevation” inside the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines – located about about 130 nautical miles from mainland Palawan – that does not overlap with other maritime entitlements in the area.

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Chinese occupation of Mischief Reef is a clear violation of the sovereign rights of the Philippines over the maritime feature, according to the court based in The Hague, Netherlands.

The same ruling declared nearby Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and Recto (Reed) Bank as part of the Philippine EEZ.

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Below are the sections of the ruling on Mischief Reef:

697. …the Tribunal has found that Mischief Reef, Second Thomas Shoal, the GSEC101 block, Area 3, Area 4, or the SC58 block all fall within areas where only the Philippines possesses possible entitlements to maritime zones under the Convention. The relevant areas can only constitute the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines. Accordingly, the Philippines – and not China – possesses sovereign rights with respect to resources in these areas.

757. China has, through the operation of its marine surveillance vessels in tolerating and failing to exercise due diligence to prevent fishing by Chinese flagged vessels at Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal in May 2013, failed to exhibit due regard for the Philippines’ sovereign rights with respect to fisheries in its exclusive economic zone. Accordingly, China has breached its obligations under Article 58(3) of the Convention.

1037: China’s activities at Mischief Reef have since evolved into the creation of an artificial island. China has elevated what was originally a reef platform that submerged at high tide into an island that is permanently exposed. Such an island is undoubtedly “artificial” for the purposes of Article 60. It is equally clear that China has proceeded without receiving, or even seeking, the permission of the Philippines. Indeed, China’s conduct has taken place in the face of the Philippines’ protests. Article 60 is unequivocal in permitting only the coastal State to construct or authorise such artificial islands.

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1043. …the Tribunal finds that China has, through its construction of installations and artificial islands at Mischief Reef without the authorization of the Philippines, breached Articles 60 and 80 of the Convention with respect to the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. The Tribunal further finds that, as a low-tide elevation, Mischief Reef is not capable of appropriation.

The Philippines told the court China has prevented Filipino fishermen near Mischief Reef since 1995. It was the same year China started building “typhoon shelters” on the reef. By 1999, there were mutli-storey structions, communication equipment there, and a helipad.

Reclamation on Mischief Reef was reported in 2014, a year after the Philippines filed its case against China.

The international court said it doesn’t have jurisdiction to rule which state has sovereignty or sovereign rights over most of the other maritime features. –

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Chinese military bases near the Philippines — 2018

China exploration of Benham Rise: Trust, but verify — Philippines assisting China in future submarine war? –Could the “China Dream” become a Philippine Nightmare?

February 1, 2018
Technical divers went down to a maximum depth of 63 meters, with a bottom time of 30 minutes during the 2016 Benham Rise expedition. Oceana

“Trust, but verify.” This was one of the most poignant quotes from former American president Ronald Reagan, specifically in the context of geopolitics. Ironically, it was originally a Russian proverb, which the American president deftly deployed to deal with the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.

Those were, however, more than just wise words, but instead a valuable strategic dictum, which served as the foundation of Reagan’s years-long chess-like negotiations with his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev.

Reagan believed in cooperation and confidence-building measures with even the most bitter and existential rivals – but, crucially, from a position of strength and with eyes wide-open. In many ways, the Philippines faces a similar dilemma vis-à-vis China, particularly in the South China Sea and over the past year or so in the Benham Rise.

Most Filipinos are somehow familiar with the nature of the disputes in the South China Sea and more specifically, the West Philippine Sea, which pertains to areas that fall within our Exclusive Economic Zone in the area.

Yet, it behooves us to understand what is at stake in the Behnam Rise, which falls in the Western Pacific and within the Philippine Sea. We have to keep in mind that what we are talking about here is neither an island, rock nor a low-tide elevation similar to the land features we claim and occupy in the South China Sea, but instead a volcanic ridge, which is part of our extended continental shelf.

Thus, in the Benham Rise we do have “sovereign rights”— rather than “sovereignty,” since we’re not talking about a full-fledged island or land formation — based on Article 77 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which makes it clear that a coastal state has sovereign rights over its continental shelf for the purpose of “exploring it and exploiting its natural resources.”

Crucially, those rights are “exclusive,” meaning other states can only do so with our express permission. The distinction between “sovereign rights” and “sovereignty” is not a major categorical difference. They are both manifestations of exclusive rights of a coastal state along a broad spectrum of jurisdictional regime.

Yes, we can’t claim the whole body of water above the ridge as our “territory” per se, but we have full and exclusive sovereign rights over “mineral and other non-living resources of the seabed and subsoil together with living organisms belonging to sedentary species” in the area. This was affirmed by a 2012 United Nations ruling, which, per UNCLOS Art. 76 no. 8, is “final” and “binding” on all signatories to the Convention.

Other states are certainly correct to emphasize their rights to freedom of navigation (FON) and overflight (FOO) in the area per UNCLOS, but that’s very rich when it comes from a country like China, which rejects an UNCLOS-based arbitration ruling as a “piece of trash paper” and claims the whole South China Sea as its own “blue nation soil” — not to mention impedes FON and FOO through massive reclamation and militarization in the Spratlys and Paracels.

In principle, there is nothing wrong with allowing other countries to conduct Maritime Scientific Research (MSR) in the Benham Rise so long as they meet our qualification criteria. And we should indeed cooperate with neighboring states such as China for confidence-building purposes as well as absolute gains of cooperation with better-endowed nations. Flatly rejecting any form of scientific cooperation with China is shortsighted.

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Chinese ocean research ship Ke Xue

Much has been said about the Philippines’ collaboration with institutions from the United States, Japan and other countries in the Benham Rise, which is rich in seabed resources, but any MSR agreement with a country like China stands out precisely because of the fact that the emerging superpower has a long-term strategy of dominating its adjacent waters.

Under its own version of the so-called “Island Chain Strategy,” China seeks naval dominance in both the East and South China Seas, part of the so-called “first island chain,” as well as the Western Pacific, specifically parts of the so-called “second island chain.”

In China’s view, the best way to defend itself from external threats, particularly the U.S., is through domination of adjacent waters – creating a maritime buffer zone as a perimeter of defense, especially for its own burgeoning maritime interests and naval capabilities, including state-of-the-art submarine bases in Hainan.

Year after year, Chinese applications for MSR in the Benham Rise have been rejected, precisely because they have refused to even accommodate, per our requirements, a single Filipino scientist to do onboard monitoring during their research. We simply don’t know the exact nature of their reported presence in the area in recent years.

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This year, they have reportedly fulfilled our requirements (though it seems not in the case of a far more reputable French institution). The MSR between Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, its local partner, is supposed to focus on studying climate-driving ocean currents. This looks all fine and innocuous, if not commendable.

But the question remains: What is the ultimate goal of China? Many defense experts fear that MSRs are just a convenient cover for more robust security goals, namely monitoring of American naval assets in the area through placement of sensors and other surveillance equipment.  We will never know for sure what are China’s intentions, but it’s important for us to cooperate yet with eyes wide open. As Reagan put it, trust but verify.

RELATED: China: Philippines can’t claim Benham Rise | China: We respect Philippines’ rights over Benham Rise

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China has no greater rights than any other in the sea. China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

People in the Philippines Ask Nagging Questions on China

August 27, 2017

By  – @inquirerdotnet

 / 05:16 AM August 26, 2017

Question: What is the similarity between China and the Caloocan police?

Answer: China claimed that it had stopped reclamation work on the disputed islands in the South China Sea since 2015 (Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano supported the claim); the Caloocan police claimed that Kian delos Santos was shot and killed because he shot at them first. Both claims were belied by pictures: In China’s case, satellite images showed its reclamation activities in late 2016; in the Caloocan case, CCTV footage showed the policemen dragging Kian off…

In short, both are bare-faced liars, caught red-handed by modern-day technology.

Q: How far do Filipinos trust China vs. America?

A: The Social Weather Stations survey in September 2016 showed that Filipinos trusted America the most (+66) and China the least (-33), among the countries surveyed. The SWS also reported that since 1994, when the question was first asked, America has always showed positive ratings, its lowest being +18 and its highest +82; China has showed positive trust ratings only 7 times out of 40, and its highest trust rating was +17 (lower than America’s lowest), while its lowest was -46.

In short, Filipinos don’t trust China any further than they can throw it (and China, a giant, can’t be thrown very far).

Q: So why does President Duterte trust China so much and distrust America?

A: No hard evidence on which to base an answer. Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told me in an interview (you can catch it on Monday) that the President “listens.” Well, yes, he “listened” to the outraged cry against Kian’s murder, but he obviously hasn’t “listened” to the Filipino distrust of China (Filipinos have dealt with Chinese since pre-Hispanic times).

All these make up background for the current issue relating to China’s bare-faced lies or its treachery vis-à-vis the Philippines, which are well-documented in Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s book, “The South China Sea Disputes” (downloadable, free).

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While vowing eternal friendship with us and offering billions of dollars in “aid” (we should look that gift horse in the mouth, given the offerer’s predilection for mendacity), China has sent two frigates (warships), a coast guard vessel and two militia maritime fishing boats, to guard Sandy Cay (which is Philippine territory, being within 12 nautical miles from Pagasa). Moreover, it has prevented a Philippine government vessel from approaching.

Q: Why should Filipinos be worried?

A: Because it is the same strategy that China employed to gain control of Scarborough Shoal (Panacot, Bajo de Masinloc) off Zambales in 2012. More, after the United States brokered a deal under which Chinese and Philippine ships were to leave the area, China reneged on what it had agreed to; the Philippines left, in good faith. Nadenggoy tayo. Which is why we went to The Hague, and won our case.

The effect of Sandy Cay’s occupation by China is enormous, according to Justice Carpio. It will reduce Pagasa’s territorial sea by a third or more, and it will prevent us from claiming Subi Reef. “By any yardstick, this is a seizure of Philippine territory.” And he demanded that the Philippines take active diplomatic and legal measures on record.

Q: What is the Duterte administration doing about it?

A: The reaction is such that one would think it was lawyering for China. To wit: 1) What ships? (It denied their existence, although they were caught on satellite); 2) The ships are just exercising the right of innocent passage. (Carpio: Innocent passage requires no stopping, or loitering. The ships have been there since Aug. 12—again caught on satellite); 3) AMTI-CSIS, the think tank that provided the pictures, is American, therefore it is there to promote US interests. (Me: What? Do we think they photoshopped the whole thing?); 4) We are not going to war over a sandbar. (Me: Nobody suggested going to war. Moreover, that sandbar, since it has high-tide elevation, is entitled to a 12-nautical-mile territorial sea around it, more than twice the land area of Metro Manila).

And lastly, Q: This issue is one where we need the best and brightest to decide on strategy. Why isn’t Justice Carpio in the loop?

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Deepsea Metro I

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Vietnam calls for Southeast Asian unity amid South China Sea tension

August 24, 2017

Vietnam’s most powerful leader has called for greater unity among Southeast Asian states at a time the country has appeared increasingly isolated in challenging China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

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FILE PHOTO: Vietnam’s General Secretary of the Communist Party and National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong talks to media after he casts his vote for members of the 14th National Assembly and People’s Councils at a polling station in Hanoi, Vietnam May 22, 2016. REUTERS/Kham/Files

HANOI: Vietnam’s most powerful leader has called for greater unity among Southeast Asian states at a time the country has appeared increasingly isolated in challenging China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Making the first visit by a Vietnamese communist party chief to Indonesia, Nguyen Phu Trong said in a speech televised at home on Wednesday that the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) needed to be unified in resolving territorial disputes.

“Do not let ASEAN become a playing card for the competition among major countries,” Trong said, without identifying which he meant.

Vietnam has emerged as the most vocal opponent of China’s claims in the South China Sea, where more than US$3 trillion in cargo pass every year.

To China’s annoyance, Vietnam held out an ASEAN meeting this month for language in a communique that noted concern about island-building and criticized militarization in the South China Sea.

Chinese pressure forced Vietnam to stop drilling for oil last month in a Vietnamese oil block that China claims. Beijing has also been angered by Vietnam’s growing defence links to the United States, Japan and India.

Some Southeast Asian countries are wary about the possible repercussions of defying Beijing by taking a stronger stand on the South China Sea.

China claims most of the South China Sea, while Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei claim parts of the sea, which commands strategic sealanes and has rich fishing grounds along with oil and gas deposits.

After Indonesia, Trong is due to visit Myanmar.

(Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Lincoln Feast)

Source: Reuters


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Deepsea Metro I

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Philippines’ current climate undermines the country’s deterrent and defense capability — “A pawn between the U.S. and China could find life difficult.”

August 24, 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte welcomes Admiral Harry Harris Jr., commander of the United States Pacific Command, to Malacañan Palace as the latter paid a courtesy call on the President on August 23. Also in the photo is US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim. Presidential Photo/King Rodriguez

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s public pronouncements on the Philippines’ decades-old Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States undermines the country’s deterrent capability, an analyst said.

Earlier this week, the president said that he will not invoke the defense treaty with the US if the Philippines confronts China in its violations in the South China Sea, and if the latter chooses the aggressive path.

“I will not call on America. I have lost trust in the Americans,” Duterte said, known for his personal stance against the US.

The president made the statement after dismissing the warning of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that Chinese are operating on a sandbar near Philippines-controlled Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea—the part of the South China Sea the Philippines claims as under its jurisdiction.

READ: Duterte: Why defend disputed sandbar?

“Everyone knows that President Duterte doesn’t like or trust the United States, and perhaps this was always his position on the MDT, but why say it publicly?” Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, told

“Even if he didn’t have any intention of ever invoking the treaty, there is no benefit and plenty of risks to telling the Chinese that,” he added.

The military alliance between the Philippines and the US dates back to 1951, where representatives of the two countries signed the MDT.

Under the treaty, both the Philippines and the US would support each other if either one of the nations were to be attacked by an external party.

RELATED: The history of the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty since 1951


A former defense official in China told Peace and Freedom, “A pawn between the U.S. and China could find life difficult. One has to choose.”


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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.