China reclaims, fortifies territories; What does Aquino do?

By Rigoberto D. Tiglao

Second of two parts

Well, he did a few things.

He thumped his chest, and declared that he “will defend Recto Bank as if it were Recto Avenue.” With the US and Southeast Asian nations at the back pushing the uto-uto, he had a case against China filed in an international arbitral court, which would cost us at least P1 billion, but the ruling of which the superpower would just ignore. He tried unsuccessfully for the Asean to rally around him in condemning China as the regional bully.

What Aquino didn’t do is really the most important thing the country should do, should have done a long time ago: To strengthen our military detachments in the nine islands under our control.

Instead, he has even, in effect, weakened our garrison on our biggest island in the Spratlys, the Pag-Asa Island.

Over the past several weeks, high-definition satellite photos had been splashed over local and international media showing that with its massive land reclamation work, China has created eight new artificial islands in disputed areas in the South China Sea. The photos show China building airstrips in several of these reclaimed – more accurately, created – islands, which analysts say can accommodate even the biggest military bombers.

What does this inane government do – or doesn’t do?

Aquino recently ordered that the repair of our airstrip on Pag-Asa Island be stopped.


“The repair has been stopped because we uphold the principle of keeping the status quo in the areas involved,” said Aquino’s spokesman, Herminio Coloma, just the other day. “This is part of our strategy for a rules-based and diplomatic approach where we have filed an arbitration case with the UN tribunal,” he said.

Read in full:

(Photo credits:  Top photo shows an aerial view of the Panatag Shoal [Philippine Star]; second photo is the Pugad island lost during Marcos’ time; the third photo is another aerial shot of Panatag, which the Philippines lost to China in 2012; and the bottom photo is the Pag-asa Island [last 3 photos from The Manila Times])

Imagine China Without the World

With the ongoing tension between China and the Philippines about the Scarborough Shoal (also known as Huangyuan Island and Panatag Shoal ), the world has suddenly turned its attention to this tiny landform which is known for rich marine reserves, and probably, mineral and gas deposits. Military standoffs between the two parties dominated the news lately, more so the fears for an impending war.

And with the protests made by Filipinos around the world against the Chinese “aggression”, China has stopped the flow of tourists in the country, and allegedly, also the export of Philippine-grown bananas. It seems that as these saga continues, the two countries will do nothing but to troll another.

You see, I have this feeling that all those happening in the Scarborough Shoal is just an overreaction. Both countries have their basis for the claims - China based its claim on historical data, while the Philippines claims the shoal, citing international law. This, of course, still needs to be settled in international forums. And also, let’s not act hypocrites here - both countries need the shoal for practical reasons and not just to “defend sovereignty”, with all the fishes and possible natural gas near its waters. Remember that the ongoing standoff between the two countries would not happen if not the Philippine Navy discovered the poaching activities of Chinese fishermen in Scarborough.

Pointing out the “practicality” of raising the Scarborough question shows how the quest for natural resources has made the diplomatic relations between the two a little bit sour. Simple economics tell us that the world lives in an endless chase for supply and demand, as as population grows and economies develop, there is a pressing need for countries to look for more resources. China has a force of more than 1 billion, and as its economy makes its people salivate for more food, cars and travel, the pressure for resources also makes its toll on its government.

For one, if China knows no damn thing about what’s beneath the shoal, would they care about it? After all, it’s just rocks. Same goes with the Philippines: just like its claims in the Spratlys and in the Benham Rise, scientists, the military and our diplomats pointed more the benefits of claiming them than anything else.

The “middle country” has its hands tied on the issue. They, no matter how fast rising its military is, cannot declare war - for practical reasons, again. Most of Asia’s (and China’s) exports pass through the South China Sea, and these will be blocked in case of war. And China being known as the “global factory”, a war with the Philippines would also mean a delay in goods for everyone! Foreign companies would abandon their factories, spelling doom for the Chinese economy.

Also to mention the toll on human and financial resources - we all known going to war needs a lot of money to produce guns and planes, also the need to force people to join the military. The stakes are too high to let the people and economies of both camps to suffer just for a rock - lives lost and infrastructure damaged. With all that’s happening in Scarborough, only the military and defense-related industries is sure to benefit. Money’s gonna flow in the pockets of the CEOs and military officials.

Point is, we live in a globalized world where one cannot just have a monopoly of resources. Imagine China without the Philippines - no, imagine China without the world. Think if the Philippines stop sending its Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong or foreign investors pull out their money in Chinese markets, just because we keep getting aggressive for a rock. And since we live in a border-less world nowadays, we should stop thinking of Scarborough in territorial lines - nations are just imaginary, but the needs and welfare of people are not.

Enumerating all of these, the two countries must stop this bickering and act maturely as diplomats, or maybe as practical businessmen. Both can benefit with the fishes and explore the gas - a win-win situation for us all.


Congress should probe Aquino, Trillanes and del Rosario

June 28, 2015 9:53 pm

By Rigoberto D. Tiglao, The Manila Times

First of Two Parts

Cleverly, the Chinese wouldn’t boast about it, of course, but because of the stupid bungling of President Aquino, we lost Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) – forever – to China.

This is the second time we lost territory in the South China/West Philippine Sea. Marcos’ forces on Pugad Island in 1975 lost that territory when they attended their commander’s birthday party on the nearby Parola island, reportedly lured by the prospect of Vietnamese prostitutes stationed there as promised by their Vietnamese friends. They returned the next day to find a Vietnamese full-armed garrison, their cannons aimed at whoever approached the island.

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

Congress should probe Aquino, his accomplice Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario – to determine how they lost Philippine territory, so we won’t make the same mistakes and continue to lose our islands in the Spratlys one by one.

Read in full:


If RP is claiming the Panatag Shoal and the Kalayaan Group of Islands, dapat lubus-lubusin na ng gobyerno ang pag-claim. Dapat pati na ang North Borneo i-claim na! We’re, somewhat, in a conflict na rin naman with Malaysia because of the Spratly islands dispute. 

Obviously, it ain’t that easy. If China claims that they have historical jurisdiction sa Spratlys, kaya rin ‘yan ng Pilipinas with North Borneo. 

Sabay-sabay na rin naman ang mga conflict na 'to. Lubusin na. With the historical and legal evidence that RP has over North Borneo, just like ng ginawa ng marami sa Spratlys and Panatag shoal dispute, siguradong marami ang susuporta sa dito. 

Philippine hackers have hacked a Chinese website as well. May suporta nga talaga galing sa mga tao. 

This is the patrimony of and to the Filipino people. Let’s take these things up to the International Court of Justice.

Both Courts have proper jurisdictions to settle sovereignty issues between nations regarding marine territories — such as those concerning the Spratly and Paracel islands.

Let’s imagine what most likely would happen if China does take her case to the International Court of Justice and the representative of China — let’s call him Mr. Lee — is before the Court headed by the Presiding Judge. Consider this scenario:

Judge: “Please inform this Court of the basis for your claim that the entire South China Sea aka West Philippine Sea belongs completely to the People’s Republic of China?”

Mr. Lee: “Thank you, your honor. Our claim is based on the historical fact that this entire area has belonged to us since the Han Dynasty.”
 Judge: “How do you intend to prove your case?”
Mr. Lee: “I will present to this Court an almost two thousand year old Han Dynasty map that indicates the limits of the Han Dynasty kingdom.”

Judge: “Let’s assume for purposes of discussion that the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and other surrounding countries were provinces or part of the Han Dynasty during its time even if the map you hold may just actually be a navigational map which does not really define the limits of the Han Dynasty. Now my study of China’s history indicate that the Han Dynasty lasted from 206 B.C. To 220 A.D. Is this correct?”

Mr. Lee: “Yes your honor.”
 Judge: “I assume Mr. Lee that you are familiar with Alexander the Great, the young Macedonian king who conquered much of the ancient world.”

Mr. Lee: “I am, your honor.”

Judge: “At the time of his death in 323 B.C., Alexander’s kingdom included Greece, Syria, Persia now known as Iran, Egypt and a part of India. Are you aware Mr. Lee that Macedonia, Alexander’s country — is now known as the Republic of Macedonia?”

Mr. Lee: “If you say so your honor.”

Judge: “Good! You appear to know your history. I assume you are also familiar with the Roman Empire which existed for over a thousand years.”
 Mr. Lee: “Thank you your honor, I do read history.”

Judge: “You are then aware Mr. Lee that at its height, the Roman Empire included most of Europe and parts of Africa and Asia.”

Mr. Lee: “I am aware, your honor.”

Judge: “Now Mr. Lee, since the time of Alexander, the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty — through the course of time and historical events, various independent countries have emerged in Europe, Africa and Asia — which now have their own respective territories. This is a reality which we all have to accept, wouldn’t you say?”

Mr. Lee: “We cannot deny reality, your honor.”

Judge: “Now Mr. Lee, another undeniable reality is that Alexander’s empire, the Roman empire and the Han Dynasty kingdom are no longer existent — am I correct in my observation?

Mr. Lee: “You are correct, your honor.”

Judge: “Now Mr.Lee, in all candor, do you seriously believe that if the Republic of Macedonia and the Italian government were to come before this Court and petition us to affirm that they own the territories of these now independent countries because they were once a part of Alexander’s empire or the Roman empire — that we would be persuaded to grant these petitions?”
 Mr. Lee: “I understand what you are getting at, Judge — but most of what we are claiming as ours is marine area and not land.”

Judge: “The Spratlys and the Paracel islands are not land? Anyway, isn’t it a fact that China is a signatory to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which she ratified on July 6, 1996 thereby agreeing to be bound by its provisions — and part of which is that anything within 200 miles from the baseline of a country belongs to that country?
 Mr. Lee: “China did agree to those provisions at a time when it was not yet aware of the far reaching consequences of UNCLOS to her national interests.”

Judge: “I will not mince my words Mr. Lee. What you mean is that at that time, the world, including China, was not yet aware, that vast deposits of oil and natural gas were to be found within the territorial limits of neighboring countries. Now because of this awareness, even if China knows she is trespassing and violating international law, she is using the coercive might of her size, military or otherwise — to grab these enormous reserves of petrowealth from the territories of her smaller, weaker, poorer neighbors — who badly need these assets to improve the plight of their own people.

Postscript: In view of all the facts and existing applicable law, the likelihood is that the UN court will find China’s petition to be without merit.

Notwithstanding requests from the Philippines, neighboring countries and the United States to bring West Philippine Sea sovereignty issues to the United Nations, China has steadfastly refused to do so. Instead, it is constantly involved in mind games, using scare tactics, insisting that everything in the whole West Philippine Sea is theirs and that this issue is non-negotiable.
 By so doing, the gigantic oil hungry dragon seeks to condition the national minds of her neighbors to forcibly accept inequitable bilateral settlement agreements — without United Nations or United States involvement. The Philippines, Vietnam and other neighbor countries must not fall into this trap. They should unite and create an alliance and insist — with the aid of the global community, with military means if necessary — that China should respect their rights and leave their national patrimony alone.

Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo’s “La Derrota de Limahong” (The Defeat of Limahong)

#quote “Together with his Filipino allies, Juan de Salcedo and the battle-tested Spanish soldiers beat Limahong’s army, and pursued and destroyed the Chinese fleet.” from A History of The Philippines From Indios Bravos to Filipinos by Luis H. Francia

China’s retaliation?

Former Secretary Raffy Alunan warned on ANC this week that China will retaliate in response to our filing of our Memorial in our  pending arbitration against China under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Citing the earlier move of China in banning the entry of our bananas into their territory, Alunan warned that China’ s retaliation could be in the form of further economic…

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Philippine Coast Guard vessel BRP Corregidor and other government vessels are docked at a pier in Zambales on Friday, replenishing food and other supplies for a possible deployment to the disputed Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. President Aquino ordered the pullout of all ships in the area last week due to bad weather.
UP System website defaced by suspected pro-China hackers

“We come from China! Huangyan Island is Ours!”

This message welcomed early morning visitors to the University of the Philippines (UP) System’s website ( on Friday as the state university suffered a cyberattack from what seem to be pro-China hackers claiming ownership of Panatag Shoal, off the Philippine coast.

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