It’s been almost three years and the Duterte administration hasn’t really publicly protested against China’s illegal actions and continued encroachment in the West Philippine Sea. This is despite landmark 501 page award issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration debunking China’s historical claims or nine-dashed-line and also condemned China’s harassment of Filipino fishermen as a direct violation to our economic rights within our own EEZ as afforded by UNCLOS.
In fact, just last year after the our fish food stocks were decimated then we chose to import ”Gallungong” from China were even rumored to have come from within our own seas. This brings us to the conclusion that our fishing industry is in really bad shape and we stand to lose from China’s rapid overfishing and plundering of endangered species within our own seas.
Last year the Chinese coast-guard deliberately harassed and took the Filipino fishermen’s prized fish catch — which Duterte administration dismissed later as mere ”barter trade” to quell public backslash.
However, it appears that China continues to build military structures within our seas including a cruise missile facility that could reach as far as Palawan and seas off Mindanao. It’s also been reported that a Chinese bomber landed in one of those artificial islands. A move which threatens national security and Philippine sovereignty. If China can land bombers in those islands then we might soon be threatened by aerial raids at any time. Although, however, Duterte’s hardcore supporters and diehard cabinet officials dismissed this and simply brushed it off using the ”hypocritical pacifist” stance of we’re not going to do anything drastic as we might end up in a shooting war.
Of course as much as we want to resolve the issues in the West Philippine Sea peacefully. However, China declined to participate. In fact, when we sued them in the Permanent Court of Arbitration. China unitarily declined to participate when they could’ve been able to present their side and prove that they own the entire South China Sea? Of course, however this isn’t the case. China not only declined to participate but also ignored the PCA ruling as well as the basic international law applicable under UNCLOS where even China was one of it’s signatories.
According to a US Navy official in his report to the US Senate Committee on the Armed Services. The situation in the West Philippine Sea has so far deteriorated and even worsened. As China continues to build more military structures that could potentially be used to attack the Philippines or deny access in one of worlds most important shipping lanes. According to US Admiral Philip Davidson that China has militarizing outposts by deploying advanced military systems that further enhance the PLA’s power projection capabilities, including missiles and electronic jammers.3
The traitors of West Philippine Sea
I have a blog piece about this detailing how Arroyo and Duterte became the willing conspirators of creeping Chinese influence over the country. And how they use money, wealth, power and fear to strike down against their enemies and prop up their popularity efforts through the use of online trolls and fake news sites. We all know by fact that most of the issued in Scarborough can be traced back in Arroyo’s controversial JMSU agreement with China which effectively gives them access to these areas paving the path to a full blown invasion and reclamation of the shoals into an island.
It is estimated that the Philippine is losing more than 5.7 Billion pesos every year (using current currency conversions $110 million annually according to AMTI, Ibid) of economic benefits from reduction of fish catch and harassment of Filipino fishermen.
The irreversible environmental damage done by China through the dredging of 10 reefs for filling materials for the seven reefs on which China has built islands. Many marine experts were worried about the sedimentation and turbidity roused by the siphoning of sand and the blasting of the coral, and the disturbance and destruction of benthic communities either around the new island or elsewhere. Natural atolls will be dredged and become artificial harbors for the many ships to be stationed in the area, bringing with them the corresponding impact of continuous operational marine pollution on any remaining coral.” (AMTI, Ibid.)
Chinese poachers goes unchecked under Duterte. Aquino had them arrested in 2014.
We’ve seen this happening when a BBC correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes testifies: Chinese fishermen were deliberately destroying reefs near a group of Philippine-controlled atolls in the Spratly Islands and Palawan back in 2015. How they did it? They tied their boats to the reefs, revved up the engines and used the propellers to smash the coral and get at 100-year-old giant clams at least 1m (3ft.) across.” These would sell for between $1,000 and $2,000 a pair at an Internet auction site. In May 2014, another boat from Tanmen was caught by Philippine police on another reef close to the Philippines called Half Moon Shoal. They had found 500 Hawksbill sea turtles, critically endangered and protected under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species. Right now we haven’t heard from these poachers apart from the fact that we have stopped hearing anything from them since Duterte assumed office. According to lawyer Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines’ Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.