PH ‘helpless’ amid China buildup at Spratlys

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THE PHILIPPINES cannot do anything but watch as China continues its military buildup and activities in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) despite the favorable verdict it got from an international arbitral tribunal.

China appears to have been militarizing the Spratly Islands with its construction of reinforced aircraft hangars on some reefs, satellite photographs released by Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) showed.

Taken in the past two months, the images showed hangars constructed on Fiery Cross, Subi and Panganiban (Mischief) reefs that are large enough to house any fighter jet used by the Chinese air force, CSIS reported.

While aircraft have not been spotted at the sites yet, the report noted that “the rapid construction of reinforced hangars at all three features indicates that this is likely to change.”


“Each of the three islets will soon have hangar space for 24 fighter-jets plus 3-4 larger planes,” the think tank said.

Lauro Baja, former Foreign undersecretary for policy and Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations, said new construction activities by the Chinese were not surprising.

“They have been occupying these areas before,” he told The Manila Times in a telephone interview.

Manila cannot easily evict or tame the Asian giant in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, he added.

“Unless we use force to evict them, you cannot tame the Chinese activities. No words can tame them. It can take some forceful action which I don’t think anybody will decide to do and that’s why China is very confident in engaging these activities,” Baja said.

China has rejected the July 12 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, which nullified its historical claims to the resource-rich Spratlys.

The divided Association of Southeast Asian Nations was weak in urging China to abide by the ruling, while the United States’ naval exercises in the West Philippine Sea never bothered Beijing.

Baja said not even former president Fidel Ramos, who was sent as special envoy to China, will solve the issue immediately.

“That’s nothing,” the former ambassador said. “FVR himself said he is not there to negotiate yet. He is just there for what I can a call a confidence-building measure,” he noted.

Richard Heydarian, professor at De La Salle University’s political science department, said China was expected to dig in further to project strength after its humiliating defeat at the tribunal.

“So expect more robust military facilities construction in the Spratlys and occasional aerial and naval patrols by Chinese armed forces,” he told The Manila Times.

Former Philippine ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia Jr. said China should abide by international law if it really wants to project power.

“The resolution of the dispute is not going to happen overnight. It will take some time. But if China wants to be a major power and respected by the international community, it should uphold the rule of law by abiding to the international law,” he said.

In the meantime, Heydarian urged the government to ask China for “quiet informal compliance,” like allowing Filipino fishermen access to Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and stopping the harassment of Filipino troops in Pagasa (Thitu) island and other areas in the Spratlys.

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14 Comments

  1. Ignacio Balbutin on

    The Philippines is not helpless because we have the US and the western countries on our side. Let Japan, the US, Australia, India etc have a joint patrol near the contested island and let’s see what China will do. It bullies anybody who does not stand against them but coiled even against a small country when it blasted its ship when it was caught fishing in its sea

  2. The Philippines better do all it can to get the support of the USA again. Give the USA somePhilippine islands outright and let them build military bases to keep China out!

    China would totally take over Philippines without USA.

  3. Let good sense prevail on Chinese leadership. Already Muslim countries are engaged in civil wars. World can not afford another Sub region resorting to force and violence.

    China already posses a big land portion on earth. Be satisfied with that.
    Over looking world sentiments will not bring good fortune to the Chinese people.

  4. What happened to the national hymn, “ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo”? we have leaders who do not have balls!!!

  5. Jerome Suarez on

    It was Cory, Ramos and Gloria’s fault the reason the might of our armed forces declined well. if they continued Marcos’ armed forces modernization program, we will not suffer this present dilemma. now you know why people prefer the so called darkest era of Marcos Regime than of the post EDSA 1 era.

  6. Helpless because your half-Chinese, leftist, traitor of a President Duterte virtually gave signal to the Chinese to go ahead and continue stealing away Philippine territory.

  7. Don’t spend a lot of money for the military. Let us use the money to make oriducts that will capture the world. Forget all claims. If we can have a good economy we get respect. We have to choose – economic prosperity or military spending.

  8. vic penetrante on

    Helpless Philippines need the support of the whole world, because China will not stop its military build-up on the West Philippine Sea. We need a massive campaign of asking for help, instead of trying to talk with China.

  9. We have to beg china to allow our fishermen to fish….funny. Its only either economic boycot or war or threat of war (like what US did to cuba) will stop them from militarizing SCS.

  10. Papano puro kasi inutil ang mga lider at politikos nation. They. Neglected the afp and continue to do so

  11. Our present president is doing war against his own people on drug peddlers; he has his organized vigilantes to do war by killing peddlers on his behalf and has his police to do war too by either subjecting peddlers to rehabilitation or killing them too. But I am wondering why our president is not doing anything concrete to China doing war in the Philippine Territories by taking Economic Zone intended by Law to the Philippine people. I think what China is doing in the Spratly is a big insult to Filipino people and Chinese too of good will to all people. China should relinquish her claim to the Territories that belong to the Philippine provided by UNCLOS and international law.

  12. That was also my thinking about China when the ruling of UNCLOS came out: that China would never stop from taking over the territory of the Philippines. Chinese, who loves money more than right principle and honor, will never back down unless they should be evicted by force.

  13. Military Planning, that is what the Chinese did. Stronghold of mineral rich territory. Will it be worth to destroy the contested islands so nobody benefit on it?