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PH lost Scarborough, and Aquino should be made accountable

President Benigno Aquino 3rd lost Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) to the Chinese in 2012 because of his juvenile belligerency and bungling appointment of Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th as his personal envoy to China to deal with the crisis.

Aquino is the only Philippine President to have lost a territory of the country because of his bungling. At least in 1975, Marcos could not have known about the South Vietnamese plot to take over a Philippine territory.

One of the first things incoming President Duterte should ask Congress to do is to undertake a formal investigation of how that happened, and whether Aquino should be criminally charged for it.

If they find out that there aren’t laws in place penalizing a President’s stupidity, such investigation would at least clarify how on earth the country’s excellent, decades-long relationship with China was quickly reversed in a span of two years by Aquino, and how we lost territory, the first time this happened since 1975. (See story below.)

Here are the indisputable facts, and neither Malacañang nor the foreign affairs department had disputed these when I published them in May and June last year.

Some background: Although China and the Philippines have each been laying claim on Scarborough Shoal, there HAD never been an attempt from either the Chinese or Filipino forces to permanently station their troops there. Fishermen from both countries have acted as though there were no dispute, fished around and in the area, and routinely used its lagoon as a refuge from storms. This “peaceful coexistence” of sorts changed suddenly in April 2012.

April 10, 2012: Sailors from a Philippine Navy surveillance ship board eight Chinese fishing vessels anchored in the shoal’s lagoon. They try to arrest the Chinese fishermen for illegal fishing and “harvesting endangered marine species.” However, two China Maritime Surveillance (CMS) ships come to their rescue and prevent the arrests in circumstances that are unclear.

A tale of two stupidities: We lost two territories so far, the second because of Aquino ‘s gullibility.
A tale of two stupidities: We lost two territories so far, the second because of Aquino ‘s gullibility.

April 11, 2012: Itching to try his new warship, President Aquino orders the frigate BRP Gregorio del Pilar – just “brand new” as the US coast guard had refurbished it and turned it over to our navy in May 2011 – to confront the Chinese at Panatag. “What is important is we take care of our sovereignty. We cannot give [Scarborough Shoal] away and we cannot depend on others but ourselves,” Aquino blustered.

April 12, 2012: Three CMS ships enter the shoal, bringing with them a flotilla of 31 Chinese fishing boats and 50 dinghies. The number of CMS vessels in the days that follow increases to 10.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar – unexpectedly – leaves the area, according to Navy Flag Officer in Command Alexander Pama, “to replenish fuel and food provisions” in its base in La Union.

That was a lame excuse. Aquino was told by Washington that sending a naval warship was a stupid move, as it made the Philippines appear as the aggressor. While CMS vessels have been practically China’s muscle in enforcing its claims in the South China Sea, these are officially civilian, part of its Ministry of Transport’s Maritime Safety Administration.

Aquino may have even played into China’s hands as the Asian power claimed to the whole world that the Philippines militarized the dispute by sending a “warship,” even though the vessel was a hand-me-down from the US Coast Guard, which no longer had use for it. China, therefore, felt it had the right to retaliate and occupy the shoal.

When BRP Gregorio del Pilar left, Aquino ordered a vessel of our Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and two Coast Guard vessels to remain near the entrance to the shoal’s lagoon.

In a casual talk with President Aquino and Executive Secretary Ochoa in his regular visits to Malacanang, Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th claimed he had high-level contacts with the Chinese government. Aquino told him to go to China and talk with his contacts to resolve the standoff. Aquino did not trust his foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario, as it was known in Malacañang circles that the former Philippine ambassador to the US was so rabidly anti-Chinese and pro-American.

June 2: After his trip to China to talk with his “contacts” — “of Politburo rank,” he told me — Trillanes told Aquino that the Chinese agreed on a simultaneous withdrawal of the Chinese ships and the Philippine vessels. “PNoy directed me to work on the sequential withdrawal of government ships inside the shoal,” Trillanes wrote in his aide-memoire on the crisis, which was later made available to me.

June 4: “PNoy called me to inform me that our BFAR vessel has already left the shoal but China reneged on the agreement of simultaneous withdrawal of their ships, so two of them [were] still inside the shoal,” Trillanes wrote.

June 10: Aquino orders the remaining two Coast Guard vessels to leave the area. The Chinese didn’t.

‘Backchannel talks’

In his aide memoire on his “Backchannel Talks” made available to me, Trillanes put the blame squarely on del Rosario:

“I asked him who agreed with what, since I was just hammering out the details of the sequential withdrawal because the mouth of the shoal was too narrow for a simultaneous withdrawal. The President told me that Sec. del Rosario told him about the agreement reached in Washington,” Trillanes wrote.

“This time I asked PNoy: ‘If the agreement was simultaneous withdrawal, why did we leave first?’ PNoy responded to this effect: “Kaya nga sinabihan ko si Albert kung bakit niya pinalabas yung BFAR na hindi ko nalalaman.” (“That’s why I asked Albert [del Rosario] why he ordered the BFAR vessels to leave without my permission.”)

Since that time no Filipino ship or fishing vessel has been able to enter the shoal, now occupied by CMS vessels and Chinese fishing boats. The Chinese imposed a 15-nautical mile restriction perimeter around the shoal, and prevents any vessel from going into the shoal’s lagoon.

Chinese strategists must have rolled on the ground laughing at Aquino. They brilliantly manipulated Trillanes and their US contacts to fool Aquino that they would withdraw their ships from Scarborough if we did. They didn’t.

US officials have expressed concern that because a geological survey ship has been going around the shoal, China intends to build an artificial island, on which a fully armed garrison could be built there, just like it has done in several shoals and atolls.

That’s how bad things can get with a stupid yet arrogant President, who listens to the counsel of a megalomaniac senator. Now I understand why Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario wanted to strangle Trillanes during a Cabinet meeting, and why the latter alleges the former provoked the Chinese aggression.

Aquino during the entire crisis didn’t even seek the counsel of his Cabinet, and decided solely on Trillanes’ advice. Obviously, both were so utterly ignorant of the operative law in the South China dispute, and for most territorial disputes: “Occupation is ownership.”

Even American generals closely monitoring the Spratly territorial disputes must have pulled their hair in utter dismay at how their puppet Aquino dropped the ball.

A November 2014 report of the Center for Naval Analyses — a private think tank for the US military — entitled “The South China Sea: Assessing US Policy and Options for the Future” pointed out matter-of-factly that in the past 40 years, China has been able to take other nations’ territory only in two instances.

The first was in 1974 when Chinese troops and vessels fought South Vietnamese forces on the Paracel islands, resulting in 53 Vietnamese soldiers killed and dozens wounded. One Vietnamese warship was sunk and three others damaged. Chinese forces have since occupied the area.

The second territory acquired by China was Scarborough Shoal, though in this case, because of a bungling President, no single shot was fired:

“From its perspective, China resolved the sovereignty dispute with the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal in 2012 when it established control over the shoal. Again, it is unlikely to relinquish it. The government of the Philippines is in no position to even begin to contemplate the use of force to recover Scarborough, and the United States is not going to become involved in any attempt to expel the Chinese.”

If we cannot jail this idiot for losing our territory, at least we must shame him and put his stupidity on record, and in the history books.

The second lost territory

Panatag is actually the second territory in the South China/West Philippine Sea we have lost. The first was to the Vietnamese.

Our military contingent on Pugad Island (Southwest Cay) in 1975 was invited to their commander’s birthday party, who was stationed on the bigger island of Parola (Northeast Cay). The South Vietnamese, from their outpost on a nearby island, invited our forces, purportedly as a gesture of their wish for friendship, to join the celebration of their commander’s birthday not only with booze and the best Vietnamese food, but with Saigon prostitutes. Our military, stationed probably on that tiny Pugad rock for months, couldn’t resist and all went to the Parola party.

They returned the next day to find a fully armed Vietnamese garrison, their cannons aimed at whoever would try to approach the island.

I’m not sure which is worse: Losing territory because sex-starved, thirsty troops abandoned their posts in 1975, or losing territory in 2012 when China fooled the President and a Senator of the Republic.


This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Manuel Ruta

    Kung atin yan, bakit walang bantay? Kung sinakop yan, bakit walang resistance? Ano ba talaga, atin ba yAn? Kailan pa? Kasama ba yan sa Treaty of Paris ng ibenta ng Spain ang Philippines sa US? Linawin ninyo!

  2. Merbs

    Treason! Imprisoned squint and trillions both traitors

  3. Humanda ka abnoy

    the 1975 story about the South Vietnamese tricking our soldiers is such a pathetic made up story, that is a big fat lie ,its ridiculous !!!!

    first of all, in april of 1975 the South Vietnamese army ,the nguyen monarchy and the democratic government of saigon are all gone , many have died,in prison camps and many more went on the run…

    april of 1975 Saigon fell to the north Vietnamese or the Vietcong, and it is just stupidly impossible for the South vietnamese army to be manning island territory off the vietnamese mainland….

    Wala pong katotohanan ang ikunkwento nyo sir—at noong panahon, mas magaganda ang armas natin, dahil ang pinaka malaking US military base outside of the United States was in the philippines….No one would dare mess with us.at kumpleto ang naval presence natin sa south china sea back then..dahil me famine sa china noong panahon na yun……at kung nasa pinas pa ang base na yun….hinding hindi magagawa ng china agawan tayo ng trritorio…..

    pero ipinapakita ni Pres.Duterte na tilted or pabor sha sa communism at chinese over the US…then, mas maganda nga kung,mangyari yun, para maramdaman..makita at malaman na rin ng pilipino ang value ng US sa philippine economy… …as it is….mas marami ng treaties at trade contract and vietnam,indonisia at malaysia sa US,kesa sa atin….pag binigay ni duterte ang demand ng communist handlers nya na e-void ang EDCA…then,doon makikita na talaga ng kano na ayaw na natin sa US as partner and trust me…papayag ang kano….pero sigurado overnight, cancel din ang lahat ng BPO contract…over 5M call center ang mawawalan ng trabaho…and hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue will also be gone…habang ang china will still enjoy being americas number 1 trading partner..something we as a country could have had-pero dahil sa oligarch…GUTOM ang inabot natin…sino namang bobo ang mag invest sa pinas…mahal na masyado ang kluryente, napakaraming red tape..tapos mayat maya, nagpoprotesta ang emplyado dahil na udyukan ng leftist…..kaya sige matatalino, mag paka bobo kayo

  4. Zero

    Our Leaders lack intelligence and prudence. What a shame!

  5. Ramon

    Wont to post
    but too ashamed
    to admit to the worldwideweb
    our government officials’ stupidity
    and our military’s greed for free food.

  6. John

    if there’s one thing Sir, I would definitely agree that our former president was an arrogant ignorant. Didn’t even know that those two words can be made applicable to one person. *facepalm*

  7. Migz

    FYI China’s 9 dashed line is contrary to law.

    Everything has to do with Aquino’s incompetence and stupidity! Had Aquino acted prudently and heed advise of those who know the law and international diplomacy we would not have lost scarborough!!!

    Read this:

    Antonio Carpio: The core of the Philippines’ case is that China’s 9-dashed lines, under which China claims 85.7 percent of the waters of the South China Sea, are contrary to international law, in particular to UNCLOS.

    Put differently, can a coastal state like China claim maritime zones from its coastlines beyond the 350 nautical miles (NM) maximum limit (200 NM Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and additional 150 NM extended continental shelf) allowed under UNCLOS? Such a claim, whatever the reason may be, is clearly invalid under UNCLOS, the constitution for the oceans and seas of our planet. China and the Philippines are parties to UNCLOS.

    To read it in full and for your learning pleasure please check this link http://www.dw.com/en/chinas-nine-dashed-line-has-no-basis-under-international-law/a-18609290

  8. Ignacio Balbutin

    Giving an inch of our territory is treason. Now we have lost many territories, Scarbrough shoal, Panatag and Sabah, This is more than treason. It is dismembering our beloved country. Only the enemy can do it but it is so sad that its the leader of our country who did it. Somebody has to pursue this case to the very end, masagasaan na ang masagaan

  9. Samuel Santos

    To save his neck, Trillanes won’t have any choice other than to pin down PNoy by putting all the blame on the future ex-president.

  10. MT Admin

    test coment only . ignore

  11. RexO

    If the Chinese did not do it in 2012, they would surely occupy Scarborough today. What makes Tiglao think that the Chinese will not drive the Filipinos away today from Scarborough. They have been doing it to the other islands we claim. We are a small country and can not fight them.
    Some people think we can negotiate and get some concessions from the Chinese. Fat chance!

    1. Maria Veronica

      Dont we think its about time now that we hv to strongly develop our diplomatic (military) ties with Israel (we hv strong diplomatic ties with them when we open our borders to them during holocaust era)? or with Japan? Or Russia? Or with USA? Ask any of them (who can give us better benefits) to aid us the anti-missile defense system in Kalayaan islands as well as in 4 fortresses in Manila Bay, put patriot missile batteries (pointing all sides of our air and marine borders) and/or air defense missiles in order to protect the whole of our Sovereignty and noone to dare mess up with us?

      Its time now to emerge strong.

  12. aces

    Mr. Tiglao,pls research where did all the income , spent164 billion pesos (remittance check) given to Aquino by GOCC spent

  13. Gem

    Sir nalimutan nyo po include yung atin Mischief Reef nakuha din ng China Sa atin 1995. Pangatlo Na po itong nawala Sa atin.

    1. rigoberto

      we had never occupied, although we’ve claimed Mischeif Reef

  14. Hector David

    They have run government like an hacienda…every government employee is accountable …let them answer

  15. alex

    Ganyan talaga ka-istupido ang ABNOY na lahi ng mga traydor(lolo ay makapili noong hapon-era).Walang ginawang matino sa kapakanan ng mga masa.Walang inatupag ang gago kundi bengansa.manuhol at hayaang mamamatay ang mga pilipino(SAF44) at manigarilyo ang gago.

  16. renz

    Imprison Pres. Aquino & Sen. Trillanes!

    Both are TRAITORS!

  17. Alma Lin

    Its enough to charged a claim of failure. Since to start a poll as elected everybody knows not a fit to set a right place as a commander in chief.

    1. Ron

      Grabe, di ko kinaya ingles mo Ate.

  18. Ignacio Balbutin

    Somebody really has to answer why we lost the Scarborough and Panatag shoal. It is unacceptable that we lost these islands oozing with gas and oil much bigger than that of Saudi Arabia and can eradicate poverty and make us richer than the Saudis. Giving even an inch of our territory to an enemy is treason. Whoever are responsible for the loss of the islands should be held accountable. It is not yet too late to reclaim our lost islands. The Philippines government should asked the help of Japan, the US and even Australia for a joint patrol in the area. It will be good if the US 7th fleet will be invited to station in Palawan which is directly facing the disputed the area. Never shall invaders trample our sacred shores. Sabah should also bd included in the investigation. How did the Philippines lost Sabah when in fact it was given as a gift to one of our datus. This claimed should be revived also. I hope the coming administration will use every effort to recover our lost territories

  19. tony

    with regards to the military lapse with the Vietnamese, contrary to common perception, most PMA graduates are downright stupid when it comes to common sense … remember Gen. Bautista who agreed to go a camp of MNLF WITHOUT their weapons … well they got massacred for their collective stupidity … and then the government hails them as heroes???? well if you like your heroes to be idiots then there are a lot more heroes in the making …

    1. Anton

      Lol very true. Another stupid mil officer is gen biazon who said we don’t need jet fighters. Neglecting the afp after closing us bases was really moronic. Now we suffer the consequences. And many more. We need bong bong Marcos.

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