Being realistic about our WPS case

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WITH the Philippine delegation to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal having wrapped up its case against China’s encroachment and excessive claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), there is a sense of optimism that the panel’s ruling – due sometime in the early part of next year – will be in the Philippines’ favor.

By all accounts, our government’s legal representatives made a strong case, and from the very beginning of the proceedings, China has refused to acknowledge or take part in them, meaning that it has not properly presented any sort of defense of its claims. If the prospects for a resolution in the Philippines’ favor do indeed become a reality, what happens next?

It is a question that President BS Aquino 3rd, who was determined against all good sense to push the maritime dispute to the brink of conflict, seems to have given no thought at all to trying to give an answer, or if so, has taken a wholly unrealistic view of the possible outcomes.

While we share the belief with the rest of the country that a decision finding that China has improperly and aggressively encroached on Philippine territory would be absolutely correct, there is the inescapable reality that neither this country nor any other can compel China to apologize and withdraw from the territories it has annexed, which now includes islands it has built from scratch. Aquino and his uncritical advisers, however, seem to believe that the United States will step in to “defend” the Philippines, or that the United Nations might impose punishing sanctions to compel China to retreat.


Neither of those things has even a remote chance of happening. While the US and its allies have various disagreements with China, these are outweighed many times over by their trade and other economic ties—and dependencies. UN action is also an impossibility. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China can simply veto any suggestion of censure for its actions, even if the rest of the Security Council stands against it, which would likely not be the case. Likewise, action in the UN General Assembly would not prosper, again due to China’s overall productive relationship with most of the rest of the world.

A favorable ruling from the UN arbitration panel will be nothing more than a vote of confidence from the rest of the world that the Philippines is correct in its position, but will have no more teeth than that, which is to say virtually none at all. In fact, that ruling will have one, and only one use: To confer legitimacy on the Philippines’ negotiating position in bilateral discussions with China – something China has offered many times (although with conditions attached that cannot really be accepted as prerequisites, such as recognizing Chinese territorial claims), and something BS Aquino 3rd, who has a habit of letting his mouth write checks his abilities and resources can’t cash, to borrow a popular phrase, should have been pursuing all along.

The reality may not be morally or politically right, and it is certainly not what we would prefer, but that’s why it’s called reality. A lengthy legal ruling is not going to restore our rights to our own seas, though it may make us feel better; only frank, confident, and open-minded discussion with China will accomplish anything to resolve the dilemma.

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8 Comments

  1. By all accounts all of the comments are really true but the real reasons why Pnoy went to PCA was designed to just have a shooting war against China in the WPS/SCS this as his last options, a calculated risk he will undertake just to prevent his incarcerations just what he did to GMA.
    He will do that shooting war, then declare martial law with concurence of rubber stamp senate, again history to repeat itself just what late Dictator Cory did declare revolutionary government with pawn military on his side and run the government instrumentalities with Freedom Constitution, it will be followed by ceasefire and bilateral talks with China. Again happy days always with the OLIGARCHS that will be lurking in all government instrumentalities. WHY, the VESTED INTEREST of the Cojuangco’s relative of Ninoy Aquino. they became richer during late Dictator Cory and they became billionaire dollar at present. Then, Mar will be definitely in the making of President by the grace of Pnoy.

  2. Actually, China has a case. Those islands that it has long claimed they their own EEZ because of the economic activity – fishing! And according to the UNCLOS, when there’s an overlapping EEZ, the parties must negotiate with each other and only if both parties agree to tribunal will it go there.
    So there’s only 1 conclusion to be made, either the judges fell for the lies of the N0ytard’s administration or the US has paid off the judges.

  3. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    03 December 2015

    I am truly amazed if not slightly shocked at the position this Editorial, “Be realistic about our WPS case,” of the Inquirer for December 3d!

    The reason the Philippines took the option of bringing its territorial-dispute case against China before the UN Arbitral Tribunal is that it believes in the Rule of Law as far as International Relations are concerned, and is for a peaceable, amicable, lawful and civilized Resolution of the case under the aegis of the UNCLOS, to which both the Philippines and China are signatories.

    This Editorial tells me that the Philippine Daily Inquirer–whose previous Publisher is UP Law Dean Raul Pangalangan–that it does not believe in the Rule of Law in International Relations, but that it now believes in the Neanderthal principle of “Might makes right!”

    How can it favor “bilateral relations” as a way for China and the Philippines to settle its territorial-dispute case when China’s PRECONDITION is that the Philippines acknowledge China’s “historic sovereignty” over those disputed maritime structures, rocks, isles, islets and islands in the Western Philippine Sea which the Philippines correctly asserts are parts of its territory under International Law?

    The Philippines would be foolish to do so because once it acknowledges China’s “HISTORIC SOVEREIGNTY” over those disputed maritime structures, it would in effect allow China “to turn the tables against it”. It would then have the right to compel the Philippines to agree that its claims on those maritime structures are in fact null and void because China exercises “historic sovereignty” over these.

    No way!

    Assuming that the Aribtral Tribunal rules in favor of the Philippines by next year, but that China will not honor let alone obey its ruling, China will run the very real risk of the world community stigmatizing it as a pariah or even as a Rogue State!

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    patalinjugmar@gmail.com

  4. If the Philippines gets a favorable ruling and China decides to ignore it then there is nothing the Philippines can do but watch the Chinese robbers steal the patrimony of the Filipino people. But such a ruling will not be useless at all. If China decides to play the big bully then China will just have to admit to it and will never have the moral authority in world affairs. A favorable ruling for the Philippines will be a yoke ob China’s neck in the world stage. It will give the Philippines a weapon to shame China at every turn if China refuses to recognize such a ruling. China’s signature in any future international agreement will be meaningless and untrustworthy. China will be a phariah state !!! Any country that kowtows to China will have to know that China will not honor any agreement if it China doesn’t want to. They will have to know that they are dealing with a thief !!!

  5. Arbitration is a big waste of time and will only harden China’s position as they know that the US is behind the said move.

  6. The Philippines could have approach the WPS/SCS 2 pronge, one by BILATERAL and PCA at the same time, but NOYNOY do not want this 2 approach, he only choose PCA now expected to rule in favor of the RP. Why is this so? this in my theory and suspect that the tenant in malacanang will do as his last options in case MAR will not be wave to the winning perception and too much pressure on PCOS MACHINE. A shooting war with China, declare Martial Law with concurence of rubber stamp Senate, Further, declared revolutionary government, booted out of office VP Binay just like his mother did to VP Laurel, charter change, and Election to favor his dominated Liberal Party, but in May 2016 election Mar will lose and all his Senator will lose, nakakahiyang matalo that is why resort to last option, this I suspect is real, all indicators are being laid out.

  7. If the U.N. Tribunal will prove us right and China will not accept the decision, the question is what will happen to UNCLOS. Will it just become a piece of paper?In the mean time we can make ourselves strong so that someday we will have the strength to defend what is rightfully ours.

  8. Normally parties submit to an arbitration proceeding to avoid a more costly regular court. The arbitrator get his power from the two parties agreeing to accept his decision as binding when they enter arbitration. In the PH/China case, China did not accept arbitration and did not participate. Nothing at all can be decided in this case. An arbitrator cannot make a decision on hearing only one side of a case, unless this will be called another kangaroo court. This is all a big waste of time and money.