Psst… US isn’t with Unclos

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It’s been awkward—even comical—for the Aquino administration to be begging the United States for arms to defend our Scarborough Shoal claim, which it declared is based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos): the Americans aren’t with the convention.

The US—together with Israel and Turkey—is among 34 nations that have not ratified Unclos; they therefore officially do not recognize it. State Secretary Hillary Clinton in 2009 said the US Senate would ratify it soon. Three years later, it hasn’t even scheduled a vote on it.

The US’ rejection of Unclos—ratified by 162 nations including China and Russia—in fact unmasks American foreign policy’s basic guideline: “Might is right.” The US is the sole military global superpower now, its navy dwarfing that of Russia and China combined. Why would the US allow these 162 Unclos military weaklings tell what its all-powerful navy can and cannot do, where it can or cannot go?

Two Unclos provisions illustrate this point. Article 20: “In the territorial sea, submarines and other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and to show their flag.” Would American nuclear submarines, which routinely, secretly traverse Chinese and Russian waters want that? Article 88: “The high seas shall be reserved for peaceful purposes.” But international waters make up the base of US warships, from which it projects its military power globally.

President Aquino and his officials have been banging their fists on the table complaining to the world that China is refusing to have the dispute settled by the International Tribunal for Unclos.

They’re in for a surprise: The Philippines isn’t also with Unclos—when it comes to sovereignty disputes like that on Scarborough.

The Marcos government ratified Unclos in 1984. But it did not ratify the treaty in full, declaring that it doesn’t recognize Unclos on certain issues. Guess which?

On issues of sovereignty. Our country formally filed an eight-paragraph document when it ratified Unclos, which declared that nothing in the treaty would apply to its territorial claims. Its Paragraph 4 reads: “Such signing shall not in any manner impair or prejudice the sovereignty of the Philippines over any territory over which it exercises sovereign authority, such as the Kalayaan Islands, and the waters appurtenant thereto.”

In other words, we’ve declared that we do not recognize Unclos when it comes to our territorial disputes, such as that on Scarborough. The only body that can revise that restriction is the Philippine Senate.

And what were China’s qualifications when it ratified Unclos in 1996?

On issues of sovereignty. China in its own declaration said that it “reaffirms its sovereignty over all its archipelagos and islands as listed in article 2 of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the territorial sea and the contiguous zone, which was promulgated on 25 February 1992.” That law declared as part of China what it called the Zhongsha Islands, which included Huangyan (Panatag to us).

In other words, both the Philippines and China—in fact most of the countries which ratified Unclos—don’t recognize the treaty when it comes to determining territorial disputes.

Didn’t they bother check what Unclos tribunal does? Of the 19 cases brought to it since 1997, nearly all were about maritime disputes, i.e., commercial vessels in some tiff with a foreign government. The only case that remotely dealt with sovereignty was about Burma’s (Myanmar) and Bangladesh’s maritime boundaries at the Bay of Bengal between the two countries.

First, Mr. Aquino makes the colossal blunder of sending a warship against Chinese fishermen, thereby militarizing the dispute, even as the vessel embarrassingly turned tail after a few days as it ran out of supplies. Then he insists that the dispute be decided by a court which, however, can’t have jurisdiction over it. This President is making us the laughing stock of the world.

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My two columns exposing the Aquino camp’s disgraceful operations of sending spurious letters to the editor have roused much reader interest, even fury. This is based on the fact that as monitored by this paper’s Web version, the column “Aquino camp faking letters to the editor” has been the most-read opinion piece (as of Wednesday) in the past 30 days, even beating columns on burning national issues. Moreover, over 7,000 readers bothered to refer these columns to others, either through e-mail or social media postings, among the highest such referrals ever monitored. Despite the uproar, Aquino’s black propaganda group—run reportedly by Secretary Ramon Carandang—continues to undertake this deceitful practice that it has surprisingly managed to still get their letters published. (I was told that there’s a P25,000 bonus for an operative who gets his fake letter published.)

Be on the lookout, dear reader. There are three first steps to spot these fakers. First, these letters don’t present logical analysis or facts but only asinine ad hominem arguments, bad-mouthing people who defy Mr. Aquino. While well-written, these letters brim with moralistic injunctions, frequently invoking the “People,” in the way fanatics in medieval ages mouthed “God.”

Second, Google their names or use people-search engines, and they don’t exist, the only result generated being the published spurious letters. And third, e-mail them. Aquino’s minions are so yellow to reply, or careful since technology can determine that they all use a single Internet Protocol address which, I’ll bet, are traceable to Malacañang.

Expect a barrage of these fake letters with the resumption of the impeachment trial.