The proliferation of “Philippines is a province of China” banners around Metro Manila is an indictment of President Rodrigo Duterte’s total embrace of China. What he has to say on the issue must be clear in his coming State of the Nation Address before a joint session of Congress on July 23.
A recent survey by Pulse Asia showed that 73 percent of Filipinos polled want the government to assert its sovereign right in the resource-rich South China Sea particularly the country’s entitlements in the West Philippine Sea which is steadily being taken over by China. Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said a wide swath of Philippine territorial waters has already been usurped by the Chinese navy. Some 150-million barrels of oil comparable to the output of Kuwait and Iraq are possibly under the SCS seabed. This, plus methane gas and the abundant fish supply to feed China’s 1.5-billion population. Oil and methane gas, on the other hand, would advance Beijing’s military agenda in the region. This is the reason why the Chinese made artificial islands out of the shoals, reefs and protruding rocks and building military bases on them.
China is not able to retake Taiwan which it considers a renegade province because the United States strengthened Taiwan’s military arsenal, particularly its air force. Beijing then opted for the Philippines because, as one observer said, “it is a willing victim.”
While the country cannot win a war with China and its mighty People’s Liberation Army, we should at least invoke The Hague arbitration court ruling rejecting China’s nine-dash-line and its sweeping claim to nearly the entire South China Sea. But the Duterte administration kept its silence pursuant to its pacifist approach to the problem.
The tarpaulin streamers were hoisted on the second year anniversary of The Hague’s ruling in favor of the Philippines. Professor Jay Batongbacal, a political analyst said the Duterte administration wasted a landmark international court decision by allowing China to continue its militarization of the disputed South China Sea.
While the Duterte administration appears ambivalent about the issue, other claimants to parts of the South China Sea like Vietnam, Taipei and Malaysia in fact use The Hague ruling in arguing their case against China.
Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, speaking on “On the Record” news forum, said the government’s weak-kneed response to China’s calibrated seizure of Philippine territorial waters in the West Philippine Sea is what gave rise to the proliferation of “Welcome to the Philippines, a province of China” banners in Metro Manila.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the streamers were put up by people who hate the President. We have to agree with Roque on this one. Because the streamers are widespread all over Metro Manila, then Roque validated that there are many in the metropolis who hate Duterte. To prevent any untoward or violent incident during Duterte’s third Sona, the Philippine National Police will deploy 6,000 men along the road leading to and around the Batasan Pambansa complex in Quezon City.
The usual suspects of protesters like Kilusang Mayo Uno, leftist militants, labor and transport groups are expected to stage demonstrations in the vicinity of the Sona venue. These groups for sure will raise the issue of “endo” or contractualization and the government to fully address this issue. Rising prices of oil, transportation fare, inept management of the Metro Rail Transit which adds to commuter woes in getting to work on time are among the issues.
There are new ones to be raised even as the President is expected to enumerate glowing achievements of his two-year old administration. Most recently, tons of rotting rice were discovered in a warehouse in Tacloban, Leyte. Then there is the P5.9-million missing from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds, according to the Commission on Audit. Where did the money go?
Do Filipinos want to be a province of China, or a state of America? The answer to this query if a poll is conducted by the SWS or Pulse Asia should be interesting.
Pacquiao demolishes Matthysse
I was wrong in picking Argentinian Lucas Matthysse to beat Philippine icon Manny Pacquiao. But I was glad to be wrong. Pacquiao proved wrong many who thought he was over the hill and should at age 39 hang up his gloves. The Pacman showed his former self, the fighter who stopped Oscar dela Joya, Miguel Angel Cotto and Antonio Margarito.
Pacquiao sent Matthysse to the canvas three times. The last time was in the seventh round, when referee Ken Bayless waved the fight over because the Argentine’s eyes looked glazed and he was unable to get up.
A surprise weapon in Pacquiao style was a left uppercut which sent Matthysse to the canvas twice before the third and final trip to the floor.
With his stirring victory, Pacquiao should be able to command again mega bucks at the box office. Next on Manny’s list is the Russian fighter Vasyl Lomachenko.