Duterte delivered, but it’s too soon to celebrate


Let’s get the story straight and clear, because the facts got jumbled in all the excitement and euphoria. The wrong story was, instead of the right one.

It is a fact that President Rodrigo Duterte has delivered on his statement upon arrival from Beijing, that Filipino fishermen could soon return to fish at the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), where Chinese patrol boats had been blocking them for some years now.

Last week, and over the weekend, our fishermen were able to fish in their traditional fishing grounds.

Excited by the news, local media, on the prompting of palace communications people, reported that Chinese boats had quit Panatag, leaving Filipinos to fish at their leisure.

Within a day of this report, however, came a rude awakening. Our department of National Defense learned on Sunday that in fact, Chinese coastguard ships were still patrolling the shoal, although they were not blocking Filipinos from fishing in the area.

.A Defense Department spokesman issued a statement to clarify the situation. He said the fishermen who visited the shoal on Saturday still saw Chinese coastguard ships there.

He said: “Filipino fishermen, who have been to Bajo de Masinloc, (the local name for Scarborough Shoal) say that they have observed an undetermined number of Chinese white ships in the area but (the Filipinos) were not subjected to any harassment by these vessels and they were able to fish in peace.”

In short, the Chinese ships never left the shoal. They remain totally in control of Scarborough shoal which they seized from the Philippine Navy in 2012, and to which China has deployed large fishing fleets.

Despite the success of DU30’s China visit, he could not persuade the Chinese to pull out their boats from the area.

An even larger fact that must not be overlooked is that Scarborough lies within the 200-mile economic zone of the Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). As such, we should have control over the area.

Finally, it needs stressing that our interest in Scarborough is by no means limited to fishing rights. There are other considerations at issue here.

President Duterte never got to discuss this matter with Chinese leaders in Beijing, because they restricted the discussions.

China has given no indication of recognizing Philippine rights over Scarborough, or of dropping its claim to it.

It is in this light that we believe it is important for President Duterte and his foreign policy team to serve notice on China that we fully intend to exercise our rights in the South China Sea, which have been resoundingly affirmed by the permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague in July this year.

In its verdict, the court ruled that China’s claims to all of the SCS, based on a nine- dash-line map was not legal. We won every point raised in the hearing of our case.

Given the clarity of the arbitral award, it is strategically wrong for our government to play down this legal victory, to put territorial disputes on the back-burner, and to shift the focus instead on Chinese economic assistance.

This has the shabby effect of monetizing our rights to Scarborough and other parts of the SCS. In the eyes of the world, this gives the impression that we have sold out to China on this issue, after having expended so much treasure and energy on winning at the arbitration court.

This has the unintended consequence of validating Chinese occupation of Scarborough, and of making more difficult the reclamation of our rights to the shoal, without interference from China.


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  1. There seems to be no resolve in our claim of the Scarborough Shoal. We wasted time , money and efforts in fighting for it in the International Tribunal. Its an insult to us and the International court . So mush really seems to be more than what meets the eye. Something is not right.

  2. This is so like the pilipino penchant for squatting in somebody else’s property. In the Philippines, especially metropolitan areas, if you have an unoccupied property, chances are you will find somebody else had already built his own abode, irregardless of materials, permits, zonal restrictions, etc. And when you discover the illegal entry, you have to fight tooth and nail to get back your own property, for which you had paid real estate taxes. You go through the judicial process, spending for court requirements and after you have received a favorable decision after showing proof of ownership, court hand you down a decision ordering illegal occupants to vacate premises. Does it sound familiar? And what does the pilipino squatter do? They refuse to vacate, even risk life and limb to defend their ……………pride?

  3. Bakit hinayaan ni Uncle Sam na maangkin ang Scarborough Shoal. Huwag nilang sabihin di nila namanmanan yan o namonitor ng kanilang spy satilite. Baka sadyang hinayaan nila ang pangangkin iyan sa kadahilanang di natin alam kung anong strateya mayroon si Uncle Sam.Ngayon forma forma lang sila sa mga warfleets nila sa ilang bahagi ng karagatan natin takot naman silang itaboy ang mga fishingboats ng mga Tsino.Siguro hinihintay lang na sugurin ng Navy natin mga Tsino at tapos saka sasaklolo si Uncle Sam(?). Pero delikado ang sitwasyong yan baka magkayabangan ang ang dalawa superpower ay tayo rin ang labis na mapinsala. At ayaw naman ni Uncle Sam na makipagsapalaran ng dahil lang sa isang karagatang pinagkukunan ng mga ilang nating kababayan ng kabuhayan. So for the mean time di hayaang muna natin kahit paano makinabang naman tayo sa ating karagatang inangkin ng kapitbahay natin mga Tsino. Si Uncle Sam nga di sumusugod eh armado ito, tayo pa kaya ? Maliban na lang kung tayo ay magpapatiwakal o mag kunwaring matapng.

    • Only the Philippines have a right to challenge China from occupying the shoal. The U.S.A. have no legal authority to do so.

  4. Once again, we have shoddy journalism that completely misses the forest for the trees!! The author makes it appear that our other option is to tell China to leave and that they would. Idiocy! Pure idiocy and hubris. We can impose our will on China, given our meager resources, to the same extent that we can stop the wind from blowing. Why not content yourself with the fact that our fishermen can now make a living where they used to be unlawfully bullied and sent away. Get with the program and realize your small victories. Maybe in the future we will be in a better position to assert our rights. For now, let’s coexist alongside a global power we have no chance of bumping heads with. Put on your practical cap for now instead of your nationalistic helmet which will only get you nowhere other than the ridicule of the sensible citizenry.

  5. if anyone would think that china will give back the S. Shoal to PH because of that piece of paper from the hague, that someone must be drinking shabu from am to pm. that’s the reality folks. it’s gone folks, since 2012. as digong said, “it can be dealt with only with two things, by force which we don’t have, or by talking, which is the only practical choice we have”. he further said, “who will die for my country except filipinos”…think about it!

    back to S. shoal, do you think US will spare it’s men and bullets for us to recover that shoal? if they does, what would be in return? nothing is for free….they will not folks, they will not!!

    let digong play his card, who knows….

  6. This column is just a noise.. this writer nothing to write better, What he think? Its a wet market negotiation and argue heavily to the vendor?, what a lousy opinion.

  7. Relaxs lang kayo, letting our fishermen to fish in the disputed island is only a start, sooner or later, China’s grip on that piece of rock and sand will be lifted, China’s heart of stone will soon softened thus avoiding unnecessary debate and arguments or war perhaps. I suggest my fellow countrymen we should wait, be patience, our leaders are doing everything to take back what is ours.

  8. if i read the column of pascual in another paper where he interviewed an expert in arbitration, the ruling of unclos says that all parties who were fishing in the shoal for a long time should not be hindered from doing so. the ruling does not give the phil. ownership of the shoal since the shoal, with all the reefs in it, are not owned by anyone. the ruling said, as i understand it, just said that china should have asked permission from the phil to be there since it is within its economic zone but not own the shoal. check it out. i might be wrong.

  9. As the great BOOK says there is a season for everything.

    We need to survive, become strong, then when we are more capable, we can try to do what has to be done.

    Let’s build our country first by working hard as one.

    Getting livelihood for our people, without having to beg is a start.

    Talk is cheap, but what can be done within our means?

    Being cooperative, supportive, and truly, tangibly productive is what we need more than anything else, for now.

    At least the present admin is trying to do just that, for a change – want to contribute for the sake of our country? then do it by supportive action, not by more disinformation.

  10. R Domingo,will you rise up and fight? It would be good to see you walk the walk and talk the talk

  11. Simeon E. Anekang on

    after having expended so much treasure and energy on winning at the arbitration court.??? You do nothing at all, provide us a fact that you help win the arbitration..
    The fisherman can do their normal routine on the said island will be good news not only to them, let them celebrate because they are the first one affected.
    Can you provide us proof that the administration already sold out the island or leave it’s claim – show it to us please.

  12. Right on! This is a lose-lose situation for us Filipinos. Scarborough Shoal is our property and the Chinese stole is from us! We are the agrieved party and we are the one seeking permission to fish? This is what you call respecting our sovereignty? This is a matter of principle. Duterte sold us out. What a coward. We should fight. Only when we are willing to die for country will we earn respect.

    • Ernesto Dela Cruz on

      Bravado! What will you fight the Chinese with, may I ask. Remember that Digong didn’t sign any document on this matter because he didn’t like the text of the doc.

      Puro tayo daldal, puro tayo yabang, ano ang napala natin sa kayabangan natin? May nakatulong ba sa mga mangingisda natin in that area for the last four years? And when this Visayan guy named Rodrigo Duterte managed to eke out a compromise of sorts, you will criticize him?

      What would you do if you were the Phil president? Magpakamatay ka man duon sa contested area tatawanan ka lang ng mga Chinese.

    • You call Duterte a coward. If you’re so brave, why don’t get on boat, sail to the disputed islands and start killing the Chinese soldiers that are guarding the islands. You should look in the mirror and re-consider who the coward REALLY IS!
      Duterte is simply being realistic. The Philippines will never win a shooting war with China. Not in hundred years! We have all seen the kind of support the Americans (who are supposed to be allies with the Philippines through thick & thin) are willing to give. The American military support is limited to doing military exercises and sailing one of their carrier groups through the disputed waters. But that is about the extent of it. If you really believe that America will get into a shooting with China, then you must be one of those drug-addled addicts who believe in fantasies.

  13. This Chinese government, want everything, they already have the Scarborough, and want more, thru loans, for our infrasructures “pautang na, taon bago mabayaran” and it can be use against us. Militarily and economically, Pag baon na baon na tayo sa utang, They will negotiate, even though we do not have the leverage to negotiate, to explore the Spratley for oil and we cannot say no, because, it will tend to be China will be our master. China need raw materials, that they need badly for their factories, Since we are deeply indebted to them, our mining industries, will be in jeopardy, since they can dictate the price, and mine our lands as much as they want. It is like raping our country. That’s the kind of ” help” we going to get from China, that many Filipinos do not see.

    • Put it this way…Suppose there is no country call China, where do the PH sell its resources? To the West right? Suppose you do not borrow from China because there is no China. who do you borrow from? The West right? Now ask yourself another question, who offer better terms, the West or China? If China offer better terms, do you call that “rape of your country”? Think before you talk. Talking without thinking only show how shallow you are.

  14. Who wrote this report? This is just pure intrigue. Now that we have our fisherfolks back to Scarborough fishing in peace, comes the intregeros who wants to stir the calm air. Ano ba talaga gusto nyong mangyari? Kelangan ba talaga na magalit na naman ang China at pigilin na naman ang ating fishermen na makangisda in peace? Sa tingin nyo may kakayahan ba tayong ipaglaban ang decision ng UNCLOS? Isip isip din pag may time.

    • If the RP likes to protect her territories, that place must be inhabited by now. Since it is our territory, it is like China is stealing the lnd which in fact we do not use. Fishermen can now fish on that area. Is that good or bad ? Are we or the US going to war on that very small island? Heck no. Since China has the money, let both our country utilize that land and not fight for ownership. We own it , not china. That is the bottom line. Advice to China, it is the money you can get from the land not the ownership. There is no deed of title. Let s not fight but join forces to get money out of this land. Utilize to the maximum .

  15. Then what do you suggest mr. author, use force to shoo china away? And when China did not respond accordingly, then go to war? You make me laugh. Ok, the area is definitely for the Philippines, but it is just water for goodness sake. There is no island with inhabitants involved. It really does not hurt us if the Chinese are in those waters. It is only America who will suffer, as they will no longer take the total control of the sea. But who cares? Certainly not the Filipinos, not from a third world country who is still a thousand years early to dream competing in controlling the oceans against the powerful nations. So stop the exaggeration where you make it sound like the Chinese are invading the Philippines. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country, and will be the first one to volunteer to go to war if ever a country tries to colonize us. But what is happening in the South China Sea is very far from that. As I have just said, it is just water for us. Get over it.

    • I watch television and read news at net, I never heard or saw that PCO reported that Chinese Navy or Coast Guard left the Panatag. The first that I saw and/or read is that the government will verify if the Chinese were still on same area after quotes of fishermen from broadcast media that they resume fishing activities without nobody bothering them. I don’t understand this editorial reporting the wrong fact. I can’t believe that the editorial staff missed the exact story. Why the need to twist facts to suit a purpose on whatever it is?