BEHIND THE LINES PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 26 June 2018 13:31

BY BOB JALDON

Ours to negotiate

We went to the. Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration for a ruling on the South China Sea dispute with the People’s Republic of China. The court ruled in our favor and awarded the Philippines sovereign rights over Recto or Reed Bank, Panganiban or mischief and Ayungin Shoal. Because of the refusal of this government to stake its claim on The Hague ruling, exploration by the Philippines of possible power sources in the South China Sea has been weakened.

The ruling did not stop China from reclaiming portions of the disputed waters. In 1988, the Philippines and Malaysia were on a collision course over a territorial issue caused by the conflicting claims of both countries over the Commodore Reef area. If you recall (the old-timers in media), 49 Filipino fishermen were detained by Malaysian authorities for allegedly intruding into Malaysian territorial waters. The claims of Manila and Kuala Lumpur to the islets in the South China Sea (take note) were a perennial source of irritant between two of the closest Southeast Asean countries. That was 30 years ago.

Speaking like a helpless child, El Presidente has constantly asserted that HE will not drive HIS soldiers and policemen against the forces of China over the disputed sea territories because it would be massacre. We will lose the entire armed forces and police in less than 24 hours if we go to war against mighty China. How do we remedy the situation. “In the long run, China will win.” That’s what we fear. Ladies and gentlemen, the Chinese have already won. That’s not even a norm that we’ve adopted. Its total surrender of our sovereignty to a country that’s giving us  (unconditional?) aid of $8.9 billion for the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program commencing this calendar year.

Bilateral action, if El Presidente is afraid to bury HIS soldiers and policemen, is still the best solution to the dispute. At this time, after shaking hands with China, any unilateral move by Malacanang concerning the disputed areas can only unnecessarily dent Manila’s relationship with Beijing which cannot be expected to sit back while she is fencing in what she believes is her legal territory by historical right and fact of actual occupation and control.

Who wants to be at war with China, militarily or economically? At least we are engaged in diplomacy as both governments have manifested interest in mutually resolving the territorial issue — for we are not at legal war only with China but also Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

In the case of Indonesia, we have an agreement to allow mutual use of the Commodore Reef that would permit access to the fishing ground around the reef. That is where we’re headed in the case of China, an amicable resolution to the fishing grounds. But what about the militarization of the reclaimed area in the South China Sea within the Nine-Dash Line? To be sure, China will not, never, relish being forced to go to the negotiating table at gunpoint. It will be the other way around.

And because mainstream media have pounced on Malacanang’s ineptitude to resolve the dispute either by force or diplomacy, El Presidente and his trolls receiving fat allowances have attacked the press. They should be reminded that freedom of the press is inviolable in a democracy.

The press is not the enemy, Senor Presidente. Your people in the social media and in the press office are.