IT’S NOT ONLY THE CHINESE THAT WE HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT
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.
(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])