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When Chinese ships entered Indonesian waters North of Natuna Islands. The Indonesian government, immediately submitted a strong protest against China’s actions, which also prompted the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to summon Chinese Ambassador Xiao Qian to complain about Beijing’s violations in its EEZ.
Indonesia also used our recently won arbitration case against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration to strengthen its legal claims over North Natuna Sea.
But despite Indonesia’s best efforts to quell illegal Chinese fishing activities within its own waters, China did not heed the protest and then later responded by re-asserting their claim over the North Natuna Sea. This prompted the Indonesian navy to respond by sending their warships towards their EEZ to drive away Chinese fishing vessels and Coast Guard ships.
Chinese ships left the Indonesian EEZ within just hours after the Indonesian warships arrived in the area also shortly after news of the Indonesian President’s visit in the Natuna Islands distributing land certificates to local residents.
Whilst these developments were playing well in Indonesia’s favor. But somewhere in the north-east. Another claimant on the portion of the South China Sea who has since led the ”Anti China” rhetoric back in 2014 and 2015 are now busily appeasing China by easing defense patrols in the Philippine claimed EEZ which gave China unlimited access to roam and harass Philippine and International ships passing nearby.
Philippines is also the only country who bravely filed an arbitration case against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration and eventually despite setbacks and tough challenges — won.
The funny thing is that though Indonesia a distant neighbor in the South used our own card in their favor and drove China away from its shores. And yet, in the Philippines. Our president refused to uphold the arbitration ruling or maybe even compel other nation states to support the Philippines in pressuring China to return areas in the West Philippine Sea through diplomatic political means.
Sadly, we’re too fooled by his pronouncements of war and blame tainting of the former administration for their betrayal and for alleged deliberate intent to give China access to Scarborough and occupy it.
However, these were not true as what happened in 2012 was that China had over 90 naval vessels and fishing boats equipped with communications equipment surrounding the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, which was the sole Philippine cutter defending our Shoal.
China was employing its cabbage strategy of blockading its targeted island. As tensions between China and the Philippines escalated, with China also imposing a ban on Philippine fruit imports and barring Chinese tourists from visiting the Philippines, there were furious negotiations between PH Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario and China Ambassador Ma Keqing to resolve the dispute.
Thus, in order to diffuse tensions between countries – both negotiated a deal for the simultaneous withdrawal of Chinese and Philippine vessels from the contested shoal.
The Philippines complied with the agreement, but China did not and their deceit is why we lost Scarborough Shoal not because Trillanes or Aquino sold them to China.
So now here we are – our neighbors actively defending their seas from Chinese invaders such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. But our navy and coastguards were not so keen on defending our rich seas from the China’s fishing locusts.
In a report published by Rappler. A vessel of the China Coast Guard docked at the Port of Manila at around 2 pm on Monday, January 13, for a “friendly visit” and joint exercises between the Chinese and Philippine coast guards.
Our coast guard seemed to be quite more than happy to fraternize with them and of appease their Chief Executive in Malacanang. Which is why the Philippine government, foreign policy has since been bogged down and outrageously focused merely on giving China what it wants and when it wants it to try and control its behaviour.
One of which, of course, is the deliberate intent of easing territorial patrols west of Pag-Asa Island, which allowed the Chinese navy to gradually occupy Sandy Cay.
It seems that the Philippines is under de-facto invasion, as millions of Chinese immigrants floods the country, overtaking jobs from the local populace such as in construction and other industries. In fact, there are certain local businesses solely employing Chinese workers and catering only to Chinese customers.
Worst, the Philippine government also entered onerous loan contracts from China on certain big-ticket high-interest projects that appeared to be very disadvantageous to the Filipino people. And yet, the Philippine government pushed through with them anyways.
Unless, there’s a sudden shift in leadership this coming 2022 then surely we will be able to re-assess and control these unchecked worrying events into horrifying uncontrollable scenarios in the future.
After all, we all must lean on each other. There’s no need for useless mud slinging because of political colors. It is our duty as citizens of this democratic nation to stand up and speak up in defense of our freedom and our privilege as citizens.
The West Philippine Sea is ours and we must take back what is ours. Use diplomatic, political pressures to force China to give way and leave our seas in peace just as the Indonesians did.
I think the real question is not about ”can we?” but ”does our govt want to?”