July 23, 2019
SONA 2019: UNDERSTANDING DUTERTE’S STAND ON THE WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
Taking a break from the usual Power Lunch in an earnest effort to understand the President’s stand on the West Philippine Sea.
The President has a way of talking in circles which had people scratching their heads on his stand on the issues surrounding the area. So here’s an attempt to break down what he said, based on ManilaSpeak’s transcript of the SONA. All observations and enumerations here are based purely on the text of the President’s address.
1. He acknowledges that the Philippines’ ownership of the West Philippine Sea is recognized internationally.
“Our ownership of the Philippine — West Philippine Sea is internationally recognized.”
“The West Philippine Sea is ours. There is no ifs and buts. It is ours.”
2. However, he believes that China has possession over the contested area.
“I cannot go there even to bring the Coast Guard to drive them away. China also claims the property and he is in possession. ‘Yan ang problema. Sila ‘yung in possession. (That is the problem; they are in possession.) And claiming all the resources there as an owner.”
“When I said, “I allowed,” that was on the premise that I own the property. Pero hindi tayo in control of the property.”
3. He blames the previous administration for the Philippines’ having lost possession, alleging that there was a compromise between China and the Philippines under PNoy / DFA Sec. Albert del Rosario and the Philippines lost possession when we backed off from the contested area.
“We are claiming the same but we are not in the possession because of that fiasco nung dalawang nag-standoff doon during the time of my predecessor. … Tayo ang umatras. Pagsabi niya umatras, that was a kind of a compromise. Tayo ang umatras. Noong umatras tayo, pumasok sila. Marami na. … That day, we lost the Spratly and the Panganiban. Iyan ang totoo. Walang bolahan ‘yan.”
4. He does not believe that the Exclusive Economic Zone is exclusive to the Philippines.
“However, both the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Arbitral Award in the case of People of the Republic of the Philippines vs. People’s Republic of China recognize instances where another state may utilize the resources found within the coastal state’s Exclusive Economic Zone.”
5. He argues that the Chinese can fish in the West Philippine Sea based on the Arbitral Award
“The arbitral ruling even states that the Philippines may enter into fishing agreements with other states, provided certain conditions and requisites in the UNCLOS are met.” (This is obviously an incorrect reading. He interprets this to mean that any other state may enter and fish in the EEZ without compensation; whereas the clause actually emphasizes ownership as it is evident by the language that it is the Philippines that would have the right to allow others to fish in EEZ waters and demand compensation for such.)
6. He argues that the Chinese can fish in the EEZ based on traditional fishing rights.
“You know, they have been there fishing since time immemorial. I think it was Adam who got the first Lapu-Lapu there.”
“I was invoking ‘yung traditional fishing rights. It is in that arbitral ruling. Ayaw lang ninyong gustong tignan. …It is mentioned there that even before countries were in existence, people around an ocean or a lake had already been fishing there for generations. And that is why fishing rights are allowed in the so many cases between Finland and Germany, decided by UNCLOS — UNCLOS and the International Law of the Seas. UNCLOS is a product of a treaty. That treaty is also a part of our land because we are a signatory. Eh kung basahin lang ninyo ‘yan nang husto, it is there. China and everybody recognizes traditional fishing rights for the natives who were there even before the creation of republics and governments. That law is a human law.”
7. He did insist, though, that Filipinos should also be able to fish in the contested area based on claims of ownership
“Of course, when Xi says, “I will fish,” who can prevent him? And sabi ko naman, “We will fish because we claim it.”And sabi ko, “Please allow because…” Before that, they were driving away our fishermen. ‘Di ba inaabog nila? Kaya sabi ko, “Do not drive them away because the Filipinos are of the — that they are also — they claim it.”
“Now, if you deprive — deprive the Filipinos of — there, magkagulo talaga ‘yan. And it could lead to ano — not really war, and I said, “we have to…”
8. However, he acquiesced to China exclusively drilling for oil. It seems that this was in return for some arms provided by China after the US cancelled their supply to the Philippines
“Alam mo ganito ‘yan eh. Noong — when I became President and when the M16 rifles were cancelled by America upon the prodding of the US Congress, I found myself in a quandary because reports were already very ripe na there was the passing of arms in Marawi. And because of the arms were already — mostly in the hands of the police, hands-me-down from the army were quite old and sometimes the bolt that pushes the bullet flies out and the barrel has really become lose, and there are no more lands and plains to push it into a circular trajectory to maintain its accuracy.
“So I was forced to go to China. Eh mabuti’t na lang nasabi ko sa inyo ‘to. Then in China, we had a bilateral. I brought along the military man — Año, the chief of staff then, and all of them, Lorenzana, Esperon, National Security.
“In China, we had a bilateral. I brought along the military man — Año, the chief of staff then, and all of them, Lorenzana, Esperon, National Security. In that meeting, I said — Cabinet members were there — ‘I want to go to my territory to dig oil.’ That was the word, ‘I dig.’ Because that is ours. Ang sabi ni President Xi, ‘Well, you know there is a conflict there.’ Do you think, rather than go there and have a confrontation — not necessarily the grey ships, war ships. But you know a squabble there could lead to something else. Sabi niya, we just became friends. And perhaps we can talk about this. But not an outright precipitate move because… He said it softly, ‘It can mean trouble.’ If the trouble comes out from the mouth of a president of a republic, anong magawa ko? So what did I answer? ‘Well then maybe, sir, we can talk about this at some other time.’ … We cannot you know, have our cake and eat it too.”
“Nakita ko ‘yung tao eh. So you can, more or less, draw a profile of his, ‘Please do not do that because there will be trouble.’ Ano… Anong magagawa ko?”
9. He continued to downplay the incident where a Chinese vessel hit a Filipino vessel as a mere “maritime incident”. He also admitted that the Chinese reached out to talk but did not want to talk in the Philippines; hence, the Philippine government said that they could do their own investigation and thereafter compare notes and discuss damages.
“Eh ‘yung disgrasya, ‘yung pagsabi “a mere incident — legal, marine incident,” ‘yan ang ginagamit sa batas ‘yan, “a marine incident happened.” Hindi naman sinasabi na “marine accident.”
“It was just nabanggan, wala naman. So they wanted to talk, tapos ayaw dito. And so, “So sige, we will investigate and you investigate, and when you are ready, we should meet and compare notes, and let us determine who pays for what damage. … Ganun lang.”
10. He assures the public that he will fight for the Philippines’ territorial integrity but not now. At the moment, all he can do is a “balancing act”.
“There are those who say that we should stand up and stop those who fish in our economic zone. Of course we will do in due time.”
“Let me assure you, that national honor and territorial integrity shall not — shall be foremost in our mind, and when we may take the next steps in this smoldering controversy over the lines of arbitral ruling, the West Philippine Sea is ours. There is no ifs and buts. It is ours. But we have been acting, [applause] along that legal truth and line. But we have to temper it with the times and the realities that we face today.”
“The avoidance of conflict — armed conflict and protection of our territorial waters and natural resources compel us to perform a delicate balancing act. … better results can be reached in the privacy of a conference room than in a squabble in public. That is why I will do in the peaceful way, mindful of the fact that it is our national pride and territorial integrity that are at stake.”
“Ipadala ko ‘yung marines ko to drive away the Chinese fishermen. I guarantee you, not one of them will come home alive.”
“We try to drive them away, it could lead to a violence.”
“You want war? Alam mo, asaran ‘yan eh. Supladuhan ‘yan. Kung supladuhan lang, murahin, P***** i** mo, l***** ka. Umalis ka diyan.Kung ganunan lang, bright ako diyan. Hanggang bunganga lang. Pero kung bunutan na ng baril, ah pwede siguro basta dalawa lang. But the problem is, there — whether we do it in a diplomatic way, there will be heated arguments, sigurado ‘yan.”
“There is a time to — for everything. A time to negotiate and a time to quarrel with your enemy.”
There you go.
I thank the President for his honesty in revealing what transpired between the two governments. It reveals the President’s sincerity.
I think the threat that China made on the President must have been real or he would not cower. Either that or they must have really given a very good arms deal or other deal to make the President say that one “cannot have his cake and eat it, too”. There is clearly more to the negotiations than the public is made aware of.
However, I am still shocked that the President acknowledged possession by the Chinese of the area.
Finally, Mr. Xi, how dare you threaten our President with “trouble”, you a$$hole. Go shove your Great Wall up your oil drilling a$$. And stay away from our waters!!
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One Comment on “SONA 2019: UNDERSTANDING DUTERTE’S STAND ON THE WEST PHILIPPINE SEA”
joaquin borlaza says July 28, 2019 at 1:36 am
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