South China Sea

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The other threat in the South China Sea (Philippine West Sea): Vietnam

WHILE President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his military brass have been on overdrive to condemn China’s alleged aggressiveness in Philippine West Sea, another claimant, Vietnam, has been on an island-building spree, doubling its hectarage of reclaimed land in the disputed areas in the first five months of this year. Prodigious anti-China basher, former justice Antonio Carpio, who is married to a Vietnamese, has never ever criticized Vietnam for ignoring our claims in the Spratlys. Vietnam is the only claimant that got to grab in 1975 an island, Pugad Island (Southwest Cay), from us, although by subterfuge.

Vietnam has occupied the most features in the Spratlys β€” four islands and 29 reefs. The Philippines occupies eight islands and two reefs. China occupies seven reefs, which it transformed into artificial islands from 2012 to 2013, and three shoals, including Bajo de Masinloc, which the Philippines abandoned in the 2012 Scarborough stand-off.

As sure as the sun rises in the East, if China vacates its occupied artificial islands in the South China Sea, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam will be landing its troops on each and every island, and it has been preparing to do so for a decade.

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Continue ReadingThe other threat in the South China Sea (Philippine West Sea): Vietnam

Is he mad, and a warmonger?

AT a security forum in Singapore on Friday, a delegate asked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr: If a Chinese water cannon killed a Filipino soldier, would he consider that a red line and invoke the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty?

Marcos replied as if he were a president of a superpower: “If by a willful act a Filipino β€” not only serviceman but even a Filipino citizen β€” is killed … that is what I think is very, very close to what we define as an act of war, and therefore we will respond accordingly.”

He noted that Filipinos had been injured in recent clashes, but none had been killed yet. “Once we get to that point, we would have crossed the Rubicon. Is that a red line? Almost certainly, it’s going to be a red line. (That idiom, meaning making an irreversible decision, is derived from Roman general Julius Caesar and his army’s crossing of the Rubicon in 40 BC to rule as strongman of the Roman Republic.)

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SCS hoax No. 3: ‘Court’ ruled vs China’s claims

Third of four parts

THE third-biggest lie over our South China Sea (SCS) disputes with China has been disseminated in the Hitlerian tactic that a fallacy repeated again and again would be believed as truth.

Indeed, nearly all media reports on our SCS quarrel contain versions of the following statement: “The Philippines sued China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2013 over the country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea. In July 2016, the court ruled in favor of the Philippines and rejected China’s nine-dash claim, covering almost the entire South China Sea.”

That’s from a May 24, 2024 report in the Daily Tribune, ironically a paper financed and put up by the officials and supporters of former president Rodrigo Duterte, who called that “court’s” ruling a worthless piece of paper.

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Hoax No. 2: China’s claims are based on the nine-dash line

Third of four parts

I DEBUNKED in my column last Monday the colossal lie that China has trampled on our sovereignty because it has been intruding into our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and I do hope those who disagree with me express their views, which I will publish in my column so we could have a lively debate and ferret out the truth.

The gist of my argument: Areas that our leaders claim are within our EEZ are areas China has long claimed as its sovereign territory, such as the Spratlys, which in all its maps since even before the World Wars are depicted as part of its territory it calls the Nansha Islands. It’s moot and academic to argue which narrative is correct; all we can do is to recognize that a territorial (not maritime) dispute exists and to undertake cordial, not belligerent, bilateral negotiations without threatening China that the US will help us enforce our claims.

The second biggest hoax over our territorial disputes with China is the assertion, which is almost always stated even in straight news articles, that our neighbor’s declaration of sovereignty over the Spratlys is based on the so-called nine-dash line, a series of dashes drawn around the South China Sea. It’s as if one day, a Chinese leader woke up on the wrong side of the bed, drew that line, and declared everything encompassed by it as China’s sovereign territory.

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Colossal hoax: It’s not about EEZs, stupid*

First of four parts

THE allegation that China has absolutely no right by international law to islands and shoals in the South China Sea, which has reached a level of Sinophobic hysteria against the superpower, is based on colossal misinformation. This lie has been masterfully disseminated by the US to demonize China as part of its “Pivot to Asia” policy started in 2009.

This colossal lie is that China has been intruding into our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), a maritime zone, and therefore, it’s trampling over our sovereignty.

But the EEZ was invented through an international treaty that took effect only in 1994. It emanates 200 nautical miles from the coastal state’s territorial sea, which is 12 nautical miles from the land territory. This means that, unlike the territorial sea over which a state has absolute sovereignty, an EEZ confers only limited rights to the coastal state, mainly over its natural resources, which is why its name does not include any term that may be from the coastal state’s territorial sea, which is 12 nautical miles from the land territory. This means that, unlike the territorial sea over which a state has absolute sovereignty, an EEZ confers only limited rights to the coastal state, mainly over its natural resources, which is why its name does not include any term that may be misconstrued as sovereign authority.

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Atin Ito ‘swarming’: A classic budol-budol

THE much-hyped swarming by fishermen into the China-controlled Bajo de Masinloc led by a dubious group calling itself “Atin Ito” is a classic case of budol-budol. That Hiligaynon slang has entered into popular usage throughout the country in recent times to refer initially to swindling schemes.

It has been used, though, to refer to how a particular political leader got Filipinos to vote for office.

The ex-priest, ex-communist Edicio de la Torre and the 37-year-old Rafaela David β€” president of the left-of-center Akbayan Party and a protΓ©gΓ© of Sen. Risa Hontiveros β€” claim to be the convenors of Atin Ito. That is impossible: the 81-year-old de la Torre can hardly walk without a cane, while David has never been engaged in mass work as an Akbayan leader to be able to organize fishermen. De la Torre couldn’t even join the swarm to Bajo de Masinloc (international name: Scarborough Shoal). David was interviewed 100 kilometers from Scarborough. Emman Hizon, another spokesman in the swarm-Scarborough swindle, has been Akbayan’s spokesman for over 10 years and concurrently its deputy secretary general.

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Height of immorality to use civilians as cannon fodder, sacrificial lambs

IT is the height of immorality for President Marcos Jr.’s Navy and Coast Guard to use civilians β€” in this case poor fishermen β€” as cannon fodder, even sacrificial lambs, in the maritime-area dispute with China in the South China Sea.

For planning and undertaking such a profoundly depraved scheme, those involved in it, and their bosses, especially Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Jay Tarriela, who sources say planned it, should be fired and dishonorably discharged.

I am referring to the operation by a dubious group called “Atin Ito” launched the other day for a number of fishermen and activists, prodded, paid or fooled by former communist leader Edicio de la Torre and Akbayan head Rafael David’s outfits, to sail on their fishing boats to “swarm” Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal).

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What a president: He’s made us, again, the world’s laughingstock

WHAT a president.

It turns out that it was President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who authorized β€” or even ordered β€” the implementation of a “new model” proposed by China to de-escalate tensions in Ayungin Shoal that resulted, after the Philippines unilaterally abandoned the model, in the water-cannoning of Philippine Coast Guard vessels and hired civilian ships that tried to supply the BRP Sierra Madre stuck in the area.

This is according to the transcript released by the Chinese Embassy in Manila of a purported conversation in November last year between an identified Chinese diplomat and Armed Forces Western Command (Wescom) head Alberto Carlos expounding on the “new model” which he said had been approved by Marcos, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Romeo Brawner, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro and National Security Adviser Eduardo AΓ±o.

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Duterte rectified Aquino 3rd’s colossal blunder

THE Chinese Embassy the other day confirmed that the People’s Republic of China and former president Rodrigo Duterte agreed on a “temporary special arrangement” to allow small-scale fishing around the disputed Spratly Islands, but restricted access for military, coast guard and other official planes and ships to the 12-nautical-mile limit of its occupied island’s territorial waters.

This agreement rectifies, at least to some extent, the past Benigno Aquino III regime’s loss of Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island to the Chinese) in 2012.

The agreement is also a template for peace in the disputed islands and reefs in the Spratlys archipelago. It shows how stupid and leading-nowhere is the incumbent administration’s belligerent “what-is-ours-is-ours” policy toward China. Vietnam informally has had a similar agreement for years.

The de facto agreement puts aside the issue of what country legitimately controls a particular feature in the Spratlys but allows fishermen from a claimant country to fish within the other claimant nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

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