China’s invasion, Duterte’s treason

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RODRIGO Duterte has achieved for China the most peaceful invasion of another country in recorded history. Without firing a single shot, Communist China has successfully occupied several reefs on the West Philippine Sea and the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and in record time, built a military facility that connects all reefs while destroying them and inflicting heavy ecological damage all around.

The facility is capable not only of curtailing free passage of ships along international sea lanes, but also of blowing to pieces the Philippines. The facility is nearly finished according to aerial photos released by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Feb. 5, its swift construction abetted by Duterte’s treasonous accommodationist policy toward totalitarian bully Beijing. Duterte had promised during the 2016 election campaign to ride a jet ski on the disputed territories and challenge Beijing’s illegal construction. But he has sung a different tune since being elected. In fact in contrast to the vicious bluster and macho braggadocio of his usual public speeches, in which he curses the Church and his political enemies and cry for blood against drug pushers and addicts, his voice changes whenever the subject turns to China. His voice becomes highpitched like the falsetto of a choir boy.

It’s the voice of a sissy, a castrato. Someone with no balls. Duterte even had the temerity to crack a joke in front of Chinese-Filipino businessmen, suggesting that they make the Philippines a part of Chinese territories instead. “Province of Philippines, Republic of China,” he said in jest. Of course, the Chinese Filipino businessmen laughed approvingly at the ingenious joke of their satrap and court jester. As for the country with a joke of a president, the joke is on the Philippines.

China has the gall to claim the reefs as part of its territory even if Panganiban Reef (internationally known as Mischief) is located 150 miles west of Palawan and 620 miles of Southeast China, proving that the reef lies within the Philippines’ EEZ. China says its claim on the territories is historic but this has been dismissed by the international tribunal on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

In its ruling in 2016, the tribunal said the nine dash line being claimed by China as basis of its historic claim had no validity and in any case had been superseded by Unclos. The tribunal declared that the reefs are within the Philippines’ EEZ and form part of its continental shelf.

Unclos states that territorial sea stretches out to 370 kilometers from state’s coast. Unclos also makes it clear that only the coastal state has jurisdiction to build artificial islands, installations and structures on the area.

Other states are prohibited from interfering with, much less establishing military bases, on

islands far from their territorial sea! This was actually not the first time China ignored the Philippines’ sovereign rights on Panganiban Reef. In 1995, China had illegally occupied the reef by building structures without seeking permission from the coastal state. Then Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Chen Jian said those structures were built to “ensure the safety and lives as well as the production operations of the fishermen.”

Fast-forward to 2018: Photographs reveal air and naval bases including runways, helipads, lighthouses, radomes, communication facilities, wind turbines and cargo vessels have been established on the artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago.

So are those military structures on Panganiban Reef and the rest still meant to take care of Chinese fishermen? And where are the fishermen? China’s greedy totalitarian leaders still purposely crossed the line and paid no heed to the law. They deliberately snubbed the claims of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) on the West Philippine Sea, even after agreeing with them not to transform any features of the sea in a 2002 code of conduct signed between China and Asean.

Not only has Duterte allowed China to take over the reefs; he has not taken China to task for unauthorized “research” mission in the Benham Rise off Aurora. At first Malacanang said the area, which the United Nations has declared is part of the Philippines’ continental shelf, was not disputed territory so China was not barred from surveying it. So there was no need for a permit. Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano later said China had obtained permission from Manila to conduct the marine research mission, but, as another proof how the country’s foreign policy is not so much “independent” as Duterte puts it but really a shambles, he and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon later admitted China had had a record of unauthorized surveys of the Philippine Rise.

In any case, to give China a permit would be tantamount to treason. It clearly would be against the interest of the Philippines and a compromise of Philippine sovereignty. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said that if indeed there was a permit, it should not have been given because China was banned from Benham Rise since it refused to abide by the arbitration decision of the Unclos tribunal on the Spratlys dispute.

What has been unmasked here is Duterte’s treasonous accommodation again of the totalitarian, atheistic and repressive Communist Middle Kingdom. Duterte is nothing but Peking’s duck.

But Beijing is arrogant, and arrogance is a typical trait of imperialist pretenders whose appetite for power and territory and resources is simply insatiable. In another high-handed move, China has reportedly given Chinese names to undersea features of Bentham, in effect claiming them, just as what it has done with Bajo de Masinloc and the Kalayaaan Islands. Perhaps China has named one of the undersea features on Bentham after its favorite circus seal in the Philippines—Rodrigo Duterte.

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