• Aquino justifies standoff decision


    A month before he steps down from office, President Benigno Aquino 3rd looked back at the 2012 standoff in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal to explain his decisions on the incident that worsened the conflict between Manila and Beijing.

    President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has promised to investigate how the country lost control of the shoal that is also known as Bajo de Masinloc because it is located 120 nautical miles off Zambales province.

    China reclaimed at least seven maritime features in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), building artificial islands that now host runways and missiles.

    Duterte also questioned the role played by his top critic, Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, who did back-channeling talks between the Philippines and China.

    In a television interview, Aquino explained that he decided to start the backchannel talks when formal diplomatic negotiations failed.

    “The way I remember it, Senator Trillanes was approached kasi (because) in formal channels wala ng nangyayari (nothing was happening),” the President said.

    “We tried to have an informal channels to include talking to our special envoys to China. Pwede nyo bang lapitan ang mga contacts nyo dyan (Can you approach your contacts)?” he added.

    The standoff in Scarborough began on April 8, 2012 when the Philippine Navy warship BRP Gregorio Del Pilar arrested Chinese fishermen poaching in traditional fishing grounds for Filipino fishermen from Pangasinan and neighboring provinces.

    The Philippines was criticized for sending a warship instead of a civilian vessel.

    But Aquino said the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar was on its way “to look for the debris coming from the North Korean satellite” when it spotted the Chinese poachers.

    “On the way there nakita yung (they saw) eight Chinese fishing vessels. They were in our exclusive economic zone… so sinita (they were apprehended) in accordance with their laws and also in accordance with UNCLOS,” Aquino said, referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

    “That is allowed. Kinunfront tayo nung coast guard na Chinese tapos dun nag umpisa ang standoff (We were confronted by the Chinese Coast Guard and that started the standoff).

    How can one country withdraw without losing face? Sa Asian medyo malaki ang map, sino ba ang napahiya dito (In Asia the map is big, who will be embarrassed here)?” Aquino added.

    Chinese coast guard vessels stopped the arrest, fueling the standoff that Aquino said eventually involved Philippines’ treaty ally, the United States.

    The President said the US brokered the talks and there was an agreement for all parties to depart the shoal.

    The Philippines withdrew, but China did not.

    “I’d like to thank Americans at some point in time. Nagbroker sila, more or less, somewhat simultaneous departure. At dun tayo nagkaroon ng question kung sino ang nauna, paano ang sabayan (We had questions who should go first, how we will leave). Eventually, China said wala kaming inagreehan na ganyan (we did not agree to anything like that),” Aquino said.

    Chinese Coast Guard vessels have since occupied the shoal, preventing Filipino fishermen access to their traditional fishing grounds.

    China’s refusal to withdraw its ships prompted the Philippines to file a case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, the Netherlands.

    Citing the UNCLOS, the Philippines asked the international body to decide which country has the right over the disputed maritime features.

    The international court is expected to issue its ruling before Aquino steps down on June 30.


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    1. Plain and simple. Natakot si Pnoy period. Kong hindi umalis ang mga Chinese di sana pinabalik nya ang barko natin pagkatapos mag “replenish”. Bakit hindi na bumalik? Kasi takot. He has no right to sing “ang mamatay ng dahil sa yo” Doon na lang sya sa “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ” nya which he always wear.

    2. Mr PNoy, what was your justification for selecting Trillanes out of the 100 million Filipinos to be your emissary for back door channel talks with China?

    3. ganyan kakagao animal kang NOYTARD.Sa paghihiganti lang sa mga nasa pilipinas ka magaling at magaling karin sa panunuhol(Corona case),hayaang mamaaty ang mga tao(SAF440,Luneta siege,yolanda,boho quake,zamboanga siege kasi lahi ka ng mga traydor(lolo mo makapili ng panahon ng mga hapon at lahi din kasi ng mga balaubas(ninuno mo ay niloko ang bayan sa pagsakamkam sa Lusita).Kaya walang napal ang bayan sa kagaguhan mo,putang-ina ka.

    4. In the first place, it was utterly a grave mistake to use Trillanes for diplomatic negotiations. It has already been seen that he is a damning charlatan and an ex-mutineer whose words cannot be respected. Diplomacy is a delicate matter that cannot be trusted with a contemptible character like Trillanes. The Chinese must have known he has a highly questionable reputation. Thus his cause is lost even before it starts.

      In the second place, running to the US or asking the US to intervene in a purely regional issue is completely an indication of weakness on our part. The Philippines should not have allowed US intervention and dictation. The Philippines should have acted in its best light vis-a-vis a country we know so well. It does appear that we are the ones who started the whole mess in the first place by sending a warship to go after mere poachers. They are poaching because they are hungry not because they want to be aggressive. The problem could have been seen in this light.

      it is clear Aquino and Trillanes dismally failed.

    5. tony de leon on

      paano maging kasalanan ni pnoy iyan eh tiktik kalawang and navy natin kasin ang congress at senado puro kuakot ang ginagawa.