China is protesting the Philippines’ plan to strengthen its claim to a disputed territory in the Kalayaan island group—a plan to conduct an upgrade to a runway in Pag-asa island, and succeeding activities are under way. According to the military, the Phil. Navy has already awarded the right for the project to the winning bidder including dredging activities before construction. The Pag-asa airstrip upgrade is needed to improve the present runway, which will be the second phase of the construction. But China says the Philippines illegally occupied parts of Nansha Islands or the Spratlys, including Pag-asa violating the UN Charter and principles of international laws. But this is China’s false understanding of the said charter and international law because Pag-asa is part of Philippine territory however China tries to contest this fact.
China is now protesting against the Philippines also, so much like the Asean neighbors, now it knows how others feel, when in fact it is the one most guilty of encroaching on other country’s territories. Its scheme is “first come first serves,” so it is hurrying up construction of all kinds of air, sea and ground defenses, even a school for its workers stationed in these structures, so it will be easier for them to claim it, as if they were the first one to do so and arrived in the place.
China has no right to question the Philippine construction like the proposed upgrade because its location is in the Philippines. With China’s new activities being done at Zambales and the Ayungin Shoal, our military’s shift to territorial defense is urgent and timely. For China, it’s a race to who gets first. For the Philippines it’s a race to claim what it owns legally. The Philippines understand and respects the laws of the sea and international laws, unlike China which understands but disregards these laws. It has even challenged the UN Convention in the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to which it is signatory.
Tonibelle S. Camacho
San Carlos City