By Atty. Rene Espina
In our continuing dispute with the People’s Republic of China (PROC) in the South China Sea, Communist Party Secretary of Sansi City Xiao Jie announced that China will build a permanent structure on Scarborough Shoal. The improvement would consist of an environmental monitoring station. The Chinese seized the shoal from the Philippines in 2012. Sansi City is the administrator of China’s claims since 2017 over the Spratlys. The Hainan Daily newspaper said that preparations were underway to build the structure.
As I wrote in the past, thanks to the weakness of the previous Cory administration, the Senate of the Philippines by a vote of 12-11 voted to cancel the existence of the US bases in Clark and Subic. Mrs. Aquino tried to gather her followers at the Luneta and then marched to the Senate to convince the senators to vote for the retention of the bases. Many of those senators who voted for the removal of the bases were Cory’s own personal choices and could not have won without “Cory’s magic” or was it the magic of the Comelec? Poor Cory. Her boys ignored her.
Thus began the ordeal that we are facing today. When the US bases were still at Subic and Clark, there were US Air Force and Navy Patrols over the South China Sea. In effect, those patrols protected our territory. Even Chinese fishing vessels did not dare sail in that area.
After the United States was thrown out of its bases, the PROC used its usual “two steps forward, one step backward” tactic, and its “salami” style policy to capture many of the uninhabited islands in the area. When there was practically no resistance, the Chinese gobbled up what they wanted. All the violations are incurring in spite of the UN Court of Arbitration’s decision that the territories were within the exclusive economic zones of the Philippines. And Chinese fishermen should be allowed to fish at the Scarborough Shoal since they have been doing it in the past, but so too and with more reason should Filipino fishermen be allowed to fish.
I ask the question: after the PROC had established the permanent structure at Scarborough, would it still allow our fishermen to fish? Would the Chinese not set up a radar station, etc., etc., to monitor the US and Philippine naval and air movements at Clark and Subic? Said equipment would of course would be allegedly used for environmental observation.
Why doesn’t the present administration consult the US of A as to what the Philippines should do in collaboration with the Americans to stop the Chinese aggression? When does our country draw the line? As to having commercial relations with China, this is a matter for both parties to decide – provided there is mutual respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of each other.
Bullies of any kind, whether persons or countries, respect power and determination. At the rate our sovereignty and territorial integrity is being eroded in the Spratlys and at the Scarborough Shoal, it is clear to me that there will be more violations of our rights as a nation. We must now determine once and for all when and where do we draw the line? Cowardice is not a virtue. As our national anthem states we must be ready to die for our country.