Aquino gave China reason for reclamation

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Third of a series on the Spratly crisis

Part 1: Congress should probe Aquino, Trillanes and del Rosario

Part 2: China reclaims, fortifies territories; What does Aquino do?

Part 4:Use ‘BBL’ and CCT funds to defend our Kalayaan sovereignty


I’m starting to think that the Chinese Communist Party has a secret agent at the highest levels of our government, the very highest in fact: President Benigno Cojuangco Aquino 3rd.

The only other explanation is that we have a President so dim-witted that he has cost not only us and future generations of Filipinos dearly, but has also changed the balance of power in Asia by unwittingly helping Chinese expansion into the disputed areas of the South China Sea.

He lost Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal to the Chinese in 2012, when he ordered our ships to leave it after a week-long standoff, believing the claims by his Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and his secret envoy, Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th, that the Chinese had agreed to a simultaneous withdrawal. They didn’t, of course.

That’s the second island we’ve lost after the Vietnamese grabbed Pugad Island in the Spratlys in 1975, when our forces left it to attend their commander’s birthday party on a nearby island. They returned the next day to find a Vietnamese garrison on it, telling them to go away.*

Aquino’s most recent strategic blunder, and bad not only us, but probably for the world, is his order for the government in January 2013 to file a case at the United Nations Permanent Arbitration Court asking it to rule that China is violating the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and that the seven reefs it is occupying belong to the Philippines.

It is this case that  has given the Chinese both the justification and the urgency to convert their seven reefs in the Spratlys, which they seized in 1988 and 1995, into islands through massive reclamation work that started right after the suit was filed. (These are Fiery Cross, Cuarteron, Subi Reef, Gaven, Hughes, Johnson South, and Mischief reefs, all of which are between the islands we occupy and Palawan.)

What has he done now? Images before and after the PH filing of its UNCLOS suit. Above Hugh Reef, below Cuarteron.

What has he done now? Images before and after the PH filing of its UNCLOS suit. Above Hugh Reef, below Cuarteron. (Images from Google Earth.)

It’s a misconception – probably deliberately disseminated – that our suit is asking for the court to rule as illegal China’s so-called “nine-dash line,” a vague tongue-shaped dashed line on its maps, which declares practically the entire South China Sea as theirs, including our Kalayaan Island Group.

While it did mention that such nine-dash line is “invalid,” the Philippine case involves the argument that the Chinese can’t occupy what are merely “rocks,” which the suit, invoking UNCLOS provisions, called “submerged reefs with no more than a few rocks protruding above sea level at high tide.”

Paragraph 24 of our “Statement of Claim” submitted to the Court says: Even as these Chinese-held “features are ‘rocks’ under Article 121(3) of UNCLOS, China unlawfully claims entitlements to maritime zones greater than 12 nautical miles in the waters and seabed surrounding them, and wrongfully excludes the Philippines and other States from these areas.”

“Rocks” are in contrast to islands, like our Pag-asa Island, which UNCLOS gives a 12-mile territorial zone and another 12-mile contiguous zone. Besides, Aquino’s government argued, the entire Spratly island also falls within our mainland’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone around it, in which the Chinese-controlled reefs are located.

China didn’t agree to be “arbitrated,” which makes one wonder how the case should be called, as an arbitration is defined as two parties’ agreement to let a third party settle their dispute.

The Chinese, however, exploited the issue raised by the Philippines, and in effect replied to our claim that they’re just sitting on rocks, and therefore should leave:

“So they’re just rocks, huh? Wait and we will make them into islands.”

A few months after we filed the case in early 2013, the Chinese went on a reclamation frenzy on the seven reefs, which previously only had bunkers on stilts planted on the reefs.

Above Gaven Reef, below Johnson.

An analogy – a very rough one, though – would be if in a land placed under a homestead law, you had a concrete fence built around your property. You then file a case in court asking it to declare that only lands surrounded by a fence can be titled for private ownership. What do you think would other settlers rush to do?

US got scared

The US a few months ago got scared that the reclaimed area could accommodate military installations, including airstrips for military aircraft. It made public its high-definition spy-satellite photos – cleverly through a private news website (diplomat.com) – on the Chinese reclamation work.

The world woke up to find that the seven reefs on which the Chinese previously had bunkhouses on stilts, had become islands with ports, buildings, and even airstrips.

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The reclamation blitz at Gaven (above) and Johnson Reefs, before and after the Philippine suit. (Images from Google Earth.)

Of course, we could argue that the UNCLOS provision had that descriptive phrase “naturally occurring” islands. Still though, our case now risks being thrown out entirely on factual grounds.

Our suit repeats again and again that the Chinese are merely occupying “rocks” below the sea, so they are within our exclusive economic zone. But China has changed the very geographic features of the seven areas they had occupied, turning them into islands.

Now the Court, and even the UN itself, may have to ask its signatories to define if an island is an island if it was created out of reclamation work. It would certainly seem awkward to classify that such lands as Kansai International Airport, Hong Kong International Airport, the Palm Islands of Dubai or even our Mall of Asia – all artificial islands – are just “rocks.”

Before our suit was filed in 2013, China occupied only seven reefs, with a land area of zero.

In contrast, we have occupied seven islands with a total area of 84 hectares, less Pugad Island, which we lost in 1975. Our “flagship’ Pag-asa Island of 37 hectares, is the second biggest in the neighborhood, next to Taiwan’s Taiping island of 46 hectares. Our Likas Island is the third largest, with 19 hectares.

The islands with the Philippine flags were those that Marcos asked marines to occupy in the 1970s. We officially declared our sovereignty over those islands, as well as everything in those areas, when Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1596 of 1978, which drew a hexagon covering 29,000 hectares over what was internationally called the Spratly islands. The decree called it the Kalayaan Island Group, and declared it a municipality of Palawan province.

(The decree justified our claim to it: “WHEREAS, these areas do not legally belong to any state or nation but, by reason of history, indispensable need, and effective occupation and control established in accordance with international law, such areas must now be deemed to belong and subject to the sovereignty of the Philippines; WHEREAS, while other states have laid claims to some of these areas, their claims have lapsed by abandonment and can not prevail over that of the Philippines on legal, historical, and equitable grounds.)

Biggest landowner before

The biggest landowner as late as 2013 had been Vietnam, which has six islands with a total area of 47 hectares. Our loss to Vietnam of our Pugad Island in 1975 was such a colossal blunder, as it was the sixth largest island in the group.

After we taunted them  that what they occupied were just “rocks,” the Chinese, through their unprecedented reclamation work, created islands out of the reefs, with an estimated total area of 598 hectares at present. Now they’re the biggest landowners in the neighborhood, thanks to Aquino.

Of course, one could argue that with or without our suit, China would have undertaken the massive reclamation work that created islands out of those reefs, that it was their ultimate goal right after they built bunkers on stilts on the reefs in the 1990s.

Yet, it is just too coincidental that right after our suit was filed, the reclamation blitz  started. At the very least, Aquino gave them the justification, and the urgency to build the artificial islands.

No matter how much I try, I can’t remove that image in my mind of leaders in Southeast Asia pulling their hair in exasperation: “Why do the Filipinos have such a stupid President?”

While the Scarborough “standoff” lasted nearly two weeks in 2012 and the filing of the UNCLOS case came two years later, Aquino did not even convene the National Security Council for their inputs on these matters of such grave importance to the Republic.

In fact, nobody knows if Aquino consulted anyone on these matters, and if he did, who was it? Senator Trillanes 4th, who had bragged to me that he had contacts that go as high as the Politburo?

I never imagined a President could do so much harm not only on a country but on the region.

*(To help confused readers, the disputed areas in the South China sea consist of three places: the Paracel Islands northwest of Vietnam, over which we do not have any claim; the Scarborough Shoal area southeast off Zambales province; and the Spratly islands, officially the Kalayaan Island Group to us, which lies off Palawan.).

Next in these series: A plan of action so we don’t lose our Kalayaan territory.

Part 1: Congress should probe Aquino, Trillanes and del Rosario

Part 2:China reclaims, fortifies territories; What does Aquino do?

Part 4: Use ‘BBL’ and CCT funds to defend our Kalayaan sovereignty

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22 Comments

  1. Brovic Stuart Fernandez on

    It would be rediculous for me to complain, for i do not have the solution on this one. So i pray, Lord please guide our leaders with Your wisdom on this crucial matter. We do not want to spearhead a third world war where in there would be no winners but only loosers.

  2. Dapat ding tanungin ang author kung anu-ano ang mga laman ng trade agreements ni Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sa China. May palagay akong may kinalaman din sa South Philippine Sea. Ang isa pang MAJOR, MAJOR factor ng kapalpakan ng government natin at hindi lang yan sa mga blunder na nagawa din ng kasalukuyang pangulo ay ANG TALAMAK NA CORRUPTION- from the LGU’S up to the HIGHEST LEVELS of the GOVERNMENT.
    TAYONG MGA ORDINARY CITIZENS AY MAY KASALANAN DIN- BAKIT NATIN HINAYAANG MAG-UGAT ANG CORRUPTION? TANUNGIN DIN NATIN ANG MGA NAUNANG GENERATIONS NG FILIPINOS- BAKIT NILA PINAYAGANG MAGLIPANA DIN ANG CORRUPTION?

    PAANO PA MABABAGO ANG GANITONG PAMAMALAKAD?

  3. Roldan Guerrero on

    Intellectuals always say “dont judge a book by its cover”. This word of wisdom never applies to BSA. Sa salitang tagalog, sa pagmumukha palang nakikitana kaagad ang kilatis nya. Natanso talaga tayo sa pagluklok sa kanya. The statement of an ally, Sen. Osmena that he is like a spoiled brat who is also stubborn is very precise description of what kind of president we have. He may have good advisers but he does not listen to them, instead insists of whatever he likes. I was expecting him to come out and rebutt the rejections of Sen. Bongbong Marcos, who declared the BBL is a perdition but he did not. If my assessment to AQUINO`s level of intellect serves well, he is far below the mediocre level of intellect and people of this caliber should never be given sensitive positions, specially the Presidency which requires a TOP-GUN to be one.

  4. Wow ang gagaling tlagang ng ibang pinoy maging kritiko sa kapwa nya filipino bakit kaya hindi nyo subukan kayo ang tumakbo sa pgiging presidente tapos kayo ang mgpalakad ng pilipinas. Ano ang gusto nyong gawin ni pinoy makipag gera tayo sa China, kakainan lang tayo ng buhay pg ginera tayo. kaya nga nla dinadaan nila sa UN at US dba, hindi nyo masasabing wala silang gnagawa, dinadaan lang nila sa deplomasya. Imbes na batikusin natin ang kapwa filipino natin tulungan na lang natin.

  5. 3 navy ships 2 hamilton class cutters 8 sokol choppers 12 brandnew FA-50 JET Fighters 12,000 glock pistols (for our policemen) Lifted our Country to investment grade. 4 senators in process of conviction. Fyi Pres.Aroyo gave spratlys to china in her term. Pnoy is actually doing something about it. Pnoy the first president in the phil. To have to deal with social media.. what im saying is he did a lot of good compared to previous administrations. Kahit naging tagapag mana ng utang he did all that? I dont care if he’s insensitive as long as he does a good job.

  6. pnoy’s fight for the spratly islands isn’t for our motherland. he’s gonna give it to the bangsamoro state. it’s good china is there on guard.

  7. Miggy Miguel on

    Ay…Gibo Gibo, wherefore art thou Gibo??? We had you as a viable contender but the idiots put your dunce cousin in office instead.

  8. Amnata Pundit on

    We already know about Boy Sayad’s IQ. What i would like to know is why GMA did not stop this dimwit from becoming president.Why did she not lift a finger to stop Smartmatic from “electing” this idiot when she had the power to do so? Its impossible that she didn’t know that Smartmatic was a cheating machine and that it was primed to propel Boy Sayad and not her candidate Gibo to the highest post of the land. This is one mystery that will always hound the country even long after all these despicable characters have gone from the scene.

  9. We should have a law that will sentence to life imprisonment any stupid citizen who gets appointed or elected in a public office. How do we determine when a person is stupid. Pnoy made it easy. He can made the model.

  10. Pinoy was below standard rating in governing. He had poor ratings as a senator,what made us believe he would be better as president? ah, pag di pala pumasa senator,ipromote para matutong magaral. ay sus! Unfortunately, yes,he learned to do a lot of things being the puppet of abad and the likes to enrich themselves. Now, the same thing will happen with poe, pinoys see her as their favorite actor Fernando poe, and we will idolize and put her to power and then gnash our teeth after a few months. Because these people are part of the same group, ever heard of “birds of the same feather flock together?” it will absolutely be the same thing without question!

  11. odell aquino on

    Ibig bang sabihin ng writer, hindi na dapat nag sampa ng demanda ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas, samantalang yuon ang ligal na pamamaraan?!?!

  12. According to a Newsbreak report in 2008 (“Arroyo Gov’t Pleasing China since Day 1”), GMA “clinched the most number of bilateral agreements with China in the two countries’ 30-year relationship.” GMA signed 65 bilateral agreements with China, far surpassing the eight agreements signed by former President Ferdinand Marcos.

    Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/100728/what-did-erap-and-gma-promise-china#ixzz3f3ze23By
    Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

  13. ” Senator Trillanes 4th, who had bragged to me that he had contacts that go as high as the Politburo?”

    totoo nga palang mayabang at may messianic complex itong si Trillanes. now i believe the allegations that he’s a fraud. akala ni Trillanes ay napakagaling niya. masyadong bilib sa sarili.

    • Itong senador na ito ang dapat na ipinadala sa Mamasapano. Perennial coup plotter na palpak naman ipinadala sa isang delikadong diplomatic mission sa China. Paanong magiging diplomat ang isang sundalong palaban ang bunganga?

  14. Rey Collantes on

    There must be exchange of hands, string attached for Pres. Aquino on this high level agreement with U.S. and China. Pinoy gave this Islands to China exchange for a good retirement fee for life, then , also talked to U.S. that, he is authorizing big brother to use Subic naval base and Clark air base and developed naval bases in Palawan to be use as logistic support, and depot for armaments just in case war conflict erupts. He got benefits right and left for himself. If proven he, can be put to prison for treason.

  15. Mar Padilla, Jr. on

    This is the most important reasons why we have to chose the most highly educated, knowlegible person from end to end of our country, the true history of our country, with the highest caliber and a wide knowledge in economy, when we are electing our President during election time. When our people see a popular ACTORS and ACTRESSES, and or a world champion in sport, our voter vote for them because of their popularity in their trades and not of their true qualifications to run and manage the country which they are suppose to served. Including in this category are also Businessman, etc. These people when they are elected, consider their political position as a PART-TIME JOB. They go back to their trade as an actors or actresses or businessman after the election. They do not consider an elected position is a permanent job given by they voters to you to run the affairs of the country. NEXT TIME AROUND WHEN YOU SEE THESE PEOPLE RUNNING AROUND DURING ELECTION CAMPAIGN LIKE A DOG, PLEASE DO NOT GIVE YOUR PRECIOUS VOTE TO THEM. Hindi popularity contest ang ELECTED POSITION. Komo popular ang isang tao ay iboboto mo na. Kaya sila walang nagagawa, sumasahog lang at naghahanap ng macocorupt. Husto na Yan.

  16. Migs Doromal on

    Our president is stupid. Yes, that’s a given. But, we as people have failed this nation.

    I still firmly believe – as I did 30 years ago when I was still in college that what the Philippine nation needs is a total bloody cleansing. It is HIGH TIME TO HANG ALL OUR POLITICIANS. Kill them all so that this country can have a new beginning.

    • yes boy sisi is really what you call him migs doromal but we, the pinoys, are the most stupid. we allow him to violate all the laws of this land. we just let him do what he pleases. no action against him from us. now he is planning to get away from jail time after his term by making sure his surrogate, whether boy pickup or little ms. poe-pet, win the hocus pcos elections in 2016

    • Manny Alintana on

      How about exterminating all the haters and highly opinionated fanatics who only worsen issues rather that providing sane solutions.