TELL IT TO SUN•STAR! China, mar­itime res­cue cen­ter

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TOSPTORIES! -

ASIDE from the ex­pand­ing mil­i­ta­riza­tion of the ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands built by China in the West Philip­pine Sea (WPS), what got the at­ten­tion lately of Supreme Court As­so­ciate Jus­tice An­to­nio Car­pio is the news that China had con­structed what it called a “mar­itime res­cue cen­ter” in Kag­itin­gan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef), which is a dis­puted ter­ri­tor y.

Car­pio’s con­cern is that the Duterte’s gov­ern­ment should not just let this pass, mean­ing that it should file a protest so that it can­not be said that we have con­sented to China’s act of putting up a mar­itime res­cue cen­ter, what­ever it means, or else it might be in­ter­preted that we are rec­og­niz­ing China’s right to oc­cupy and use Fiery Cross Reef when it is the Philip­pines that has the ex­clu­sive rights over it.

There is no doubt that Car­pio’s le­gal ad­vice is worth heed­ing for it is strength­en­ing and up­hold­ing the coun­try’s claim of the WPS ac­cord­ing to the rules es­tab­lished by the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Car­pio’s rec­om­men­da­tion also seeks to give cre­dence to the July 2016 rul­ing by the Per­ma­nent Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion declar­ing, among other things, that China vi­o­lated its obli­ga­tions un­der UNCLOS with its is­land-build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties on sev­eral fea­tures, in­clud­ing Kag­itin­gan Reef. Also, that China’s nine-dash lines had no le­gal ba­sis for mar­itime claims.

But what good would Car­pio’s propo­si­tion re­ally do when China has es­tab­lished her do­min­ion in the WPS with im­punity, does not give a hoot about UNCLOS and sim­ply brushes off the de­ci­sion of the UN-backed ar­bi­tral tri­bunal?

Need­less to say that China is stay­ing in the WPS for­ever and no­body, not even the US nor the UN, can stop their con­tin­u­ing mil­i­tary build-up in the dis­puted wa­ters. The strate­gic im­por­tance of the place, both for mil­i­tary and eco­nomic pur­poses, can­not be overem­pha­sized and China can only gloat for the suc­cess it has at­tained in hav­ing the vast area un­der its con­trol to­day.

Had the Duterte gov­ern­ment protested when China started build­ing the now ex­ist­ing mar­itime ob­ser­va­tion cen­ter, a me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal ob­ser­va­tory, and a na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal and air quality mon­i­tor­ing sta­tion, all on the pre­text that it was built for hu­man­i­tar­ian rea­sons?

How about when China qui­etly in­stalled de­fen­sive mis­sile sys­tems and mil­i­tary jam­ming equip­ment, which dis­rupts com­mu­ni­ca­tions and radar sys­tems?

It never did.

The fact is that protest­ing against a su­per­power like China whose for­mi­da­ble mil­i­tary pres­ence can be felt in our back­yard is not only dispir­it­ing, but is in it­self an ex­er­cise in fu­til­ity. We are on our own and the best way for­ward is not to an­tag­o­nize but rather fo­cus on eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion while main­tain­ing our self-re­spect.

— Je­sus Siev­ert

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.