I know I’ve already blogged about this, but let me re-iterate my great admiration to the Capt. Manolo Ebora who not only schooled the arrogant Chinese navy of his knowledge in the UNCLOS provisions of ”innocent passage” but also sarcastically questioned the legitimacy of renaming the Scarborough Shoal to its Chinese name. (If you haven’t watched the video – you can watch through here)
Bear in mind that he was just there minding his own business and navigating through commercial shipping lanes when the Chinese Coast Guard interrupted him and even crossed his ship’s bow which is a very dangerous maneuver that could potentially cause accidents. If you remember this could have been the same reckless maneuver where a Chinese ship rammed a stationary Filipino fishing vessel and left them to die in the cold.
He knew that this encounter could be a dangerous one, but he didn’t allow his fear to control him and continued to assert his right to innocent passage and then for several times the Chinese navy man angrily reminded him again that this area was under Chinese custody which irked him since he was Filipino and he knows full well that he is passing through Philippine territory.
Why should I alter my course? Is this Chinese territory?
Capt. Manolo Ebora repeatedly inquired from the Chinese Coast Guard as to why they have been trying to regulate his passage if he knows full well that he is in Philippine waters and of course prior he already confirmed from the Philippine Naval Station that he is indeed entering Philippine territorial waters. So of course – he knows that under International Law, these commercial shipping lanes legitimately belong to the Philippines under its Exclusive Economic Zone.
Why did he know this? Because the standard Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) shows that this ‘Scarborough Shoal’ is administrated by the Philippine government and not China’s new name Huangyan Dao. He even told the Chinese radio operator that this could not have been controlled by China since this was in fact, even closer to the Philippines than in China’s southernmost province.
But his question of ”Is this Chinese territory” were met with an awkward silence and then just several seconds later, another operator started yapping about what seemed to be a standard spiel stating that ”Scarborough Shoal is under the jurisdiction of the Chinese government” but not directly answering his question of whether this is under Chinese territory. So it sounds Orwellian double-speak to me. Perhaps, China’s own way of vague way of imposing territorial control over these seas within Philippine EEZ without actually directly admitting it.
He even confessed that he couldn’t even sleep after the incident since he was worried that they may be reported to the Chinese authorities and they may well be detained or taken prisoner by the despotic Chinese Communist Party in mainland China which is where they are headed. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and that after staying in China for a couple of days – he was back in the Philippines again and along with it the opportunity to speak up and show the video recording about the incident.
He also mentioned that though they were afraid, but they were happy with what they did and in fact — proud to be a Filipino. Who wouldn’t? If ever I’d have the opportunity to yell at Chinese military thugs through a radio call. I’d be a bit more rough and blunt about this. But anyway – what he did was right, although not necessary for his job but did hell of a better job than our current government.